Doughty Valley Steam Day is keeping history alive

Doughty Valley Steam Day is keeping history alive
Dave Mast

Large crowds have plenty of great seats to check out all of the steam engines, tractors and demonstrations that come with the annual Doughty Valley Steam Day. This year’s event takes place near Charm July 25-27.


For nearly 20 years the annual Doughty Valley Steam Day has served as a reunion of antique farm machinery collectors.

While the name might be Doughty Valley Steam Day, it is actually a three-day experience jam-packed with family activities, steam, food and more that will take place between Charm and Berlin July 25-27.

All three days will feature demonstrations in threshing the field, shingle mills, Baker fans, oil field engines, plowing and saw mills cutting lumber, all of which will be powered by steam. There also will be hit-and-miss engines on display.

For the first time, the Colonial Homestead Artisans Guild will attend the show. The guild focuses on preserving old-time trades from the 19th century. They will feature 12 different tradesman crafts, including blacksmithing, spoon carving, textile weaving, gun making and others.

“We are excited to bring them into our weekend of activities,” event organizer John Leck said. “They add a real sense of what America was built on, much like our steam does. It really helps create the old-timey atmosphere we want to create as we take people back in time.”

As always, there will be plenty of food available for the public, so they can spend the entire time enjoying the steam, the old-time feel, the music and the atmosphere.

The evening will begin Thursday, July 25 at 5 p.m. with a pony and farm horse pull featuring local teams, culminating in the heavyweight pull that showcases the power of these horses. At 7 p.m. the bluegrass band, “High Country,” will perform under the big tent.

Friday will feature an antique consignment auction in the afternoon, followed at 5 p.m. by an old-fashioned tractor pull. The pull is open to anyone bringing in an antique tractor. There will be a couple popular breaks in the action during the pull, including the wildly popular tug-of-war that features man verses machine.

The second break will see the East Holmes Fire and EMS crew present a candy drop for the kids. These types of events continue to take a starring role in the weekend activities because the committee members believe making this a family event and bringing kids in to witness these powerful engines of yore is the best way to keep the history and memory of these great machines alive.

“We work hard to make and keep this a family-friendly atmosphere,” Leck said. “We like to think of it as a down-home pasture party for the whole family, and getting kids in here to experience this is important because they will eventually be the ones keeping this alive. It is really neat to see grandpa talking to a grandson about steam and how it works or to see fathers and sons working together or exploring these steam engines.”

At 7 p.m. the Nisley Gospel Band will perform under the big tent, but when dusk rolls around, the steam engines will crank up the heat and produce a surreal fantasy world of light with a spark show that will paint the night sky a glowing hue of orange.

“If people haven’t seen this before, it is worth coming to see,” Leck said.

Saturday morning will feature a friendly competition of steam engine games in which participants will pit their skills against one another. Following will be a garden tractor parade that encourages children to participate. To do so, Commercial & Savings Bank will issue $10 to youth to start a savings account.

The demonstrations will be a huge part of the Saturday show, and the day will end with a spark show.

According to Leck, the weekend will feature close to 100 tractors and 17 steam engines, making it one of the biggest steam shows in the state.

“It’s such a wonderful atmosphere that is very relaxing and fun for the whole family,” Doughty Valley Steam Day board member Jr. Schrock said. “We’ve been doing this for almost two decades now, and the people who have been involved are very enthusiastic and loyal to making sure that steam and the big role it has played in American history remains the focal point. The show has the ability to take people back to the days when steam ruled the countryside and was a huge part of agriculture.”

Learn more about the show on Facebook by typing in “Doughty Valley Steam Day.” The event will take place between Berlin and Charm at 5023 state Route 557, Millersburg.

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