Sunday, April 24, 2011

Let Off Some Steam

One of my favorite annual events in Oklahoma is the Pawnee Steam Show. Or, if you prefer the official title, the Pawnee Steam and Gas Engine Show.

The event is held each May on the Pawnee Fairgrounds and organized by the Oklahoma Steam Thresher & Gas Engine Association. Participants bring out their vintage machinery and show it off for the crowds. But it's not just a gearhead paradise. I mean... it is, but it's not just a steam punk festival. There's cool stuff for kids too! You'll find fresh ground corn meal, tiny little hay bales made by a tiny little hay baler, multiple demonstrations of dangerous machinery and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Several years ago the steam show expanded to include internal combustion engines. But just to keep everything on an even keel these new-fangled contraptions are located on the other side of a creek that bisects the fairgrounds. This area may not seem as impressive but it's well worth a visit. Stationary engines that once powered everything from oil wells to washing machines are constantly puttering away- their rhythmic pops and spurts creating a smoky cacophony.

Here's a short video of a few scenes from last year's gathering...

Another site worth visiting while you're there is the Pawnee Bath House.

The restored WPA building is just up the road north of the fairgrounds. Built in 1939 this was the public swimming hole and the jewel of Pawnee Lake for many years. The facility fell into decline through the Seventies and Eighties, and the building was nearly lost to neglect. Recently restored the bathhouse is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and once again open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This year the Pawnee Steam Show will be held May 6-8, 2011. Admission is $7 for adults or $10 for a weekend pass. If you're planning ahead mark your calendar for the first full weekend (Friday included) each May. Enjoy!

Two Wheel Oklahoma

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma