Erl McLaughlin’s dedication to two great loves paid off in spades this weekend. McLaughlin, known far and wide for his collection of antique farm machinery, held his annual show on Saturday, Aug. 3. The show was dedicated to Mary Ann McLaughlin, his wife and inspiration, who passed away unexpectedly several years ago.
The day saw a steady stream of visitors making their way to the show out on Sunrise Road, just outside of Enterprise. McLaughlin was in his element, explaining the various intricacies to each interested visitor, which included about an equal number of men and women. The first guests arrived at about 7:30 a.m.
“They were farmers from Union County,” he said. “They like to come early so they can get home and still get some work done.”
McLaughlin said about 150 came to visit the display over the 12 hours it was open, a number he figures is about right.
“Any more than that and you miss people,” he said. “You don’t get the personal contact.”
Speaking of contact, McLaughlin found several new contacts and leads that promised to keep him in the loop for new equipment or parts to help him keep his inventory updated or add to it.
Moscow resident Bill Venosdel has known McLaughlin for about 10 years and is also a fellow collector and a supply person for some of McLaughlin’s parts. The two met at a collector’s meeting. He appreciates McLaughlin’s knowledge of eclectic farm machinery.
“We met at a small tractor and engine club,” he said. “I ended up picking up the phone to call him because I was doing a 1020 Titan tractor. I needed to find someone who had one put together. He let me come down and look at it. He’s a great guy — no two ways about it.” The two meet together often to share parts and information.
According to McLaughlin, it’s his efforts to broaden his own horizons that keep people coming year after year. He noted that at this point, his collection has grown so that pretty much everyone can find something that piques their interest. People from as far away as San Diego, Calif., and Nebraska came to visit that day.
Families both young and old came to view the display, something that gives McLaughlin some hope for future interest in what he’s doing. He noted that little boys seem to really enjoy visiting the displays and playing around the tractors. A steam engine and some horse drawn equipment proved to be the most popular displays.
On the horizon for the collection include some vintage logging equipment as well as firefighting equipment to add to the 40-foot by 220-foot display barn.
McLaughlin said the day kept him hopping — just the way he likes it.
“That’s good,” he said. “It keeps me percolating along.”