Antiques draw a crowd to Utica
By GAYLE WEBER
UTICA -- Unique tractors, incredible cars and antiques. That's how Utica May Day -- using the town's name as an acronym -- started 10 years ago. And that's how Doug Hagans of Utica continues to celebrate.
"Everybody has a different interest," said Hagans, who was one of the "originators" of the event.
On Saturday, he had eight antique engines on display -- including one that operated a can crusher and two more that pumped water.
He used to have a collection of tractors he put on display during the event, but recently sold those and turned his attention to the engines, which require less time for restoration and smaller storage spaces.
He spent the day explaining his engines and demonstrating them to many people who ventured through the city park during the cool, windy day Saturday.
The weather might have kept some away, but not Ray and Sandy Meis of Ness City. The couple entered three tractors in the show, including an Allis-Chalmers they planned to ride in the parade.
"Even if everything else goes, we can ride in it together," Sandy Meis said of keeping the tractor with room for two on the seat.
Along with the antiques on display, children had the opportunity to ride a few carnival rides owned by the Ness County Amusement Co. and play on equipment in the city park.
Inside the former school building down the street from the park, a craft fair and cake walk were popular draws, and the Utica Community Cafe sold out of most of its lunch offerings.
Donations and community volunteers support May Day each year, according to Laurie Bernbeck, one of this year's organizers.
A blacksmith from Colorado spent the day making something for the community, which then was auctioned. A raffle of donated items from local businesses also supports the event.
"This is all nonprofit," Bernbeck said. "It's all donated money. ... We just seem to keep going."
That could be because many families and former classes in Utica use the weekend for reunions.
"Kids may not make it home for Christmas, but they'll make it home for May Day," Bernbeck said.
She said even though she doesn't get much time to relax during the day, she enjoys seeing everyone who attends.
"The whole atmosphere of just sitting around the park and visiting with friends while the car show's going on" is one of her favorite things to do, she said.