Posted: 05/25/2022 15:39:35
BERNARDSTON – After two consecutive cancellations due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the highly anticipated 44th Annual Bernardston Gasoline Engine Show and Flea Market will finally take place this weekend.
Held every Memorial Day weekend for 43 years through 2020, the Bernardston Gas Engine Show and Flea Market is typically the biggest fundraiser of the year for Bernardston United Church. Proceeds generally support the missionary work of the church, locally and globally.
One of the event’s main organizers, Bob Allen, explained how people used to use gasoline engines to power everything. For the past few years, the Gas Engine Show has had gasoline engines running as peanut roasters, creating ropes, being airplane engines, cutting shingles, powering ice cream machines and doing laundry, among other tasks, as well as tractors of all sizes.
Among the newest elements of the show this year is a children’s tractor ride, which was first introduced at the festival’s last edition in 2019. In addition to the traditional tractor parade, Allen said that there will also be an announcer who will explain to viewers what type of tractor they are looking at and what year it was made.
Regarding the importance of the Gas Engine Show to the Bernardston community, Allen said simply, “It’s huge.” The festival typically draws between 6,000 and 8,000 people to the town of around 2,100 over the weekend, with around 75 to 80 vendors at the accompanying flea market.
According to Allen, this is a very inexpensive event for families because, although visitors have the option of donating to the church upon entering, the event is otherwise free. While the money will primarily be used to keep the doors of Bernardston United Church open, Allen said it will also help the church’s many charitable activities. These include community dinners, donations to the local survival center and to Camp Mechuwana, a religious summer camp in northern Maine.
Allen is thrilled with the event’s return, noting how “people view themselves, some of them are third or fourth generation Gas Engine Show attendees.” He described the camaraderie when people see 30-40 tractors lined up, excited children and adults who themselves are excited to explain how they work to the next generation.
“Everyone missed the show,” said Vickie Ovitt, another Gas Engine Show organizer. “They will be happy to meet again.”
The Bernardston Gas Engine Show will be held at Pratt Field from Friday, May 27 through Sunday, May 29. It will be open Friday with events from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. To view the full event schedule, visit bit.ly/39SW1Tw.