Just a few miles west of Leduc, the Leduc West Antique Society hosted its 22nd Annual Show at the Alberta Heritage Exposition Park, over the weekend of July 28 and 29. A year of planning, property maintenance and exhibit improvements came to fruition when the Society’s turn-of-the-century site and its private homes, church, the Hooper Building hosting one Rolls-Royce (for now), Blacksmith Shop, Pioneer School, and a Road Builders Collection opened their doors to hundreds of eager visitors. The new and amazing Train Exhibit was unveiled recently, displaying 10 complete electric train sets with switches joining the tracks together.
Following this year’s “ODD & UNUSUAL” theme, a large display of top-notch, impressive antique collections drew a lot of traffic into the main building at the entrance of the site: most of these were for sale by collectors, but above the displays, the Society’s own collection of old farming, milking, printing and other farm and commercial artifacts stood proudly on a gigantic shelf behind a sturdy page wire fence, waiting for the massive re-design and re-build that is planned for later this year, that will see several themed displays organized and placed around the perimeter wall.
Both days were like an old-time town festival. Families walked around with strollers, kids and puppies, enjoying ice cream delights, senior visitors were catching up and reminiscing, vendors showed off their wares like tires of all sizes meant for antique vehicles, a crafty welder proudly promoted his stunning welded garden art, a unique old tractor restored to its original shiny splendor fooled guests in thinking it was a futuristic vehicle, there was so much to do and see that one could easily spend an entire day without getting bored for a single moment!
Between farming equipment and a line-up of antique trucks and tractors, a couple of exhibits stood quietly: Laurette Flett was a dynamic promoter of her husband Dave Flett’s welded art. Many people stopped by this exhibit to admire these unusual and surprisingly attractive lawn ornaments, adorned by unique and colorful pieces of antique glass. HUBBA HUBBA Glass Flowers & Wrought Iron’s workshop is located in the Pipestone area, where the Fletts are long-time residents.
The BLACKSMITH SHOP is always a favorite for visitors on this Heritage Park property: several blacksmiths from around the region signed up for shifts at this event, to promote and showcase blacksmithing, and for a few hours of an ‘art’ they love… The colors, noise, fire and smoke of the blacksmithing process never cease to fascinate people, even insiders of the welding industry: as blacksmithing is the ancestor of the technology of welding, industrial types and casual observers alike enjoy watching how the process has evolved. Guests who know very little about this science were shown attractive samples of blacksmithing, unique in their rough and artsy designs.
A traditional event that took place over the two days of this Annual Exposition was the TRACTOR PULL. Covering seven categories, dozens of tractors of various weights -and in various conditions- worked hard at pulling a load of some 6,000 lbs that weighs differently as it ‘slides forward’ on a transfer sled: the distance the competing tractor can actually pull while the load shifts is recorded, and the winners in each category are announced at the end of each day. Bob McKell is a Calmar-area farmer who competed with a green and yellow Oliver tractor, a Super 99 Model that was.. super loud, to the crowd’s delight. Another Tractor Pull competitor and enthusiastic promoter of this unique event was Maurice Van Den Brink, a congenial farmer of the Mulhurst area, who shared that his own grandpa, a proud tractor owner, was a pioneer on the same Pipestone heritage land where his son Tony Van Den Brink now farms and trains horses.
Gary Hornton is an Ardrossan farmer who displayed his pride in being a McCormick tractor owner by wearing bright McCormick suspenders. He shared his pride in having competed with his red International WD9 tractor, and having placed 3rd – so far! A young man was keeping company with some older competitors; Campbell McKay, an 18 year-old from Whitecourt is fairly new to the tractor pull circuit, but has been a tractor owner for the past five years, and likes to compete against veteran tractor owners.
Bill Graham, founder and chair of RHHS, (Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Heritage Society of Canada), was showing off large, vintage equipment in his building, assisted by a dedicated group of knowledgeable volunteers. He shares that like him, they also are passionate about preserving vintage construction equipment and about promoting the road building and heavy construction industry as a viable career option for young Canadians. He could not contain his excitement at the approaching date of August 18-19 where his group will showcase that equipment at the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery centre’s 65th Anniversary Summer Celebration (south of Devon, on Hwy 60). In a far corner of the property, a spacious area filled with wild grasses was hosting a plowing Competition. This seemed to attract a little less attention, but it was fascinating to watch nonetheless.
Aside from the 300 pies baked with love by a large contingent of volunteers, an interesting aspect of this event was that on Saturday night, the Leduc Black Gold Rodeo Committee members were on duty to serve the roast beef dinner that preceded the Larry Fjellgaard Concert. It seems that the Society and the Rodeo Committees help each other at large events. Talk about leverage of human power ! All in all, the Leduc West Antique Society pulled off another successful event, showcasing this Alberta Heritage Site, and encouraging hundreds of visitors to come back, and to tell others about their interesting adventure there.