Carthage festival appeals to fans of machinery, antiques

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

This weekend, a town within a town will swell the population of Carthage several times over.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, thousands of tractor aficionados, antique lovers and others are expected to descend on Ederville, the staging ground of the festival hosted by Ken and Patti Eder each year — a festival that began almost by accident about a decade ago and has since grown into one of the bigger events in the area.

“My husband bought a tractor,” Patti said of the festival’s origins. “Then, we decided to have a picnic for our tractor friends. We invited 500 people, but it got out on the Internet and we had 1,500 people show up. Then [there were] 3,000 the next year, and it’s just grown and grown. ... We [now] get 12,000-14,000 people who come to the show ground for those three days.”

The Eders’ tractor collection has now expanded into the biggest such collection in the U.S. and perhaps the world, Patti said; they own many of the 1,000 or more machines that will be on display this weekend at Ederville, located at 644 Niagra Carthage Road, for the show being dubbed 100+ Years of Progress.

A testament to that progress will be the Stanley Steamer guests will notice around the grounds.

Willis Able, a former tractor collector, sold the Stanley Steamer (and many other machines) to the Eders some years back but still travels down from outside of Pittsburgh every year to drive the century-old steam-powered car around, giving rides to festival-goers.

“It’s 104 years old, runs on steam, 30 horsepower,” Able said, launching into a history of the machine’s origins at the turn of the 20th century. He said people will be able to ride along with him, although no one can get behind the wheel for one simple reason: “It’s too complicated,” Able said.

Also on site will be replicas of buildings from the 1930s and 40s, including a general store, bank, saloon, telephone/mail room system, jail, medical offices and more. The saloon will be selling refreshments, and people can buy collectibles, candy and other items from the general store. There are also antique toys for children to play with, as well as a steam-powered train on site, called “Smokey Pokey,” to take people from place to place. For handicapped visitors, there are also golf carts for transportation; to rent one contact Carolina Carriage at (910) 295-0574.

On Friday, there will be a lawn mower pull, with registration starting at 6 p.m. and the contest starting at 7 p.m. Saturday will feature an antiques auction starting at 9:30 a.m., a tractor pull starting at 1 p.m. and a “money in the haystack” game for kids at 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a church service at 9 a.m. Sunday.

This year, the festival will also play host to the 2013 national show of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club, which will have its own section for displays and demonstrations. People with questions about that show should contact Erik Christenbury at (336) 339-3133 or erik@chriscommachinery.com.

Those wanting to know more about the festival in general should contact Patti Eder (pronounced ay-der) at (919) 708-8665 or patti@edervillenc.com. More information is also available at www.edervillenc.com.

People who want to bring their RV down for the event can set up at Airport RV Park, located at 187 Gilliam-McConnell Road in Carthage. For out-of-town guests, both the Comfort Inn of Pinehurst and the Quality Inn in Sanford are offering special tractor show rates.