In 1995, three men living in and around Willmar came up with the idea to form a West Central Antique Power Collectors Club after attending shows that piqued their interest.
Twenty years later, the group’s popularity had expanded to nearly 60 paid members that have a monthly meeting and an annual show.
Standing left to right: Mrs. Jack Meyer, New London; Henry Wittman, Lake Lillian; Dave Stern, Cosmos; Francis Wheaton, Lake Lillian; Gerald Marti, Willmar; Jack Meyer, New London; Norm Reidiger, Willmar; Myrtis Reidiger, Willmar; Jim Borg, Waverly; Gary Hotovec, Danube. Kneeling, left to right: Harold Kiecker, Cosmos; Nancy Kiecker, Cosmos; Jen Molitor, Lake Lillian Chuck Molitor, Lake Lillian; Dave Sandin, Franklin; Charlie Kirtz, Hector; Jim Beamis, Olivia.
“The whole idea is about having a good time while getting a chance to see some of the power equipment that is out there,” said Chuck Molitor, of Lake Lillian, the president of the West Central Antique Power Collectors Club. “The club is getting bigger all the time, and the show we put on is also drawing more people all the time.”
The Antique Power Collectors Club was initially organized by Vern Flaig and Byron Boike, of Willmar, and Bill Sommerville, of Raymond. The first meeting was held at the Kandi Entertainment Center in Willmar, with 40 people attending. At that initial meeting, Flaig was named president, Sommerville was selected as the vice president, and Boike was named the secretary-treasurer.
Members of the group come from all over the area.
“We are represented by a lot of communities,” Molitor said. “That’s what makes the club so much fun. We get to know people from all over, and each one brings in new ideas.”
The first year was a catalyst for the years to follow. The members spent time getting organized and attending other events in order to gather ideas for their own future planned events.
Besides Molitor, the other current officers are: Georgeann Menkel, vice president; Jen Molitor, secretary; and Norm Reidiger, treasurer.
The Antique Power Collectors Club meets on the third Tuesday of each summer month at a site that they purchased seven years ago from Kandiyohi County. The site, which is 1 1/2 miles east of the U.S. Highway 71 and State Highway 7 intersection approximately 14 miles south of Willmar, was previously a county wayside rest area. But the county could no longer afford to maintain it and sold it to the Power Collectors group.
When the weather gets cold, the monthly meetings are held in the Municipal Utilities Building in Willmar. The meetings are also open to the public.
“We encourage anyone to come and learn about our group and bring in new ideas,” said Molitor. “It doesn’t cost anything to come to a meeting. When we get together, we usually hear a lot of interesting stories, and we talk about plans for our annual show. We also have drawings for prizes at each meeting. It’s really all about just having some fun and enjoying one another’s company.”
Many members of the group have antique equipment they are proud of, such as tractors, plows, machinery, engines, and much more. At the meetings, the members might share a story about how they came to own or inherit the antique farm equipment or machinery. Or, they might see if anyone is interested in buying or selling a piece of equipment.
“As long as it’s antique, we like to take a look at it and hear about where it came from,” said Molitor.
This year’s event will be the 21st annual and will be held on July18 at the Highway 7 site. The show is open to the public and the cost is $5 per person.
“We have had rain for about all but three of the (20) previous years we’ve held it,” laughed Chuck Molitor, the president of the group. “We still have the show, but we’re hoping for better weather this year. We will also have demonstrations throughout the day. We usually have a good turnout, even if it’s raining.”
This antique tractor is one of the more interesting pieces at the Antique Power Collectors Club. Contributed photo
The demonstrations are designed to show how some of the antique equipment worked in the past. These demonstrations include an antique corn sheller, a shingle mill where they will show how shingles used to be cut, a saw mill to show how lumber was cut, and gas engines that pump water or grind corn.
“If anyone has something they want to show, they can just come in and register when they get here,” said Molitor. “There is no fee for them to enter the show or to show anything they bring.”