Flywheel Festival a trip down ag history lane

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

Last weekend Joseph and I went to the Fall Flywheel Festival at Joe Brigance Park in Houston, Miss. We had a choice that weekend of where to go but since I like old engines and tractors Houston is where we went. The spring festival is larger, more engines, people, and things to see but the fall festival sated a desire to see and hear an old hit and miss engine fire off and settle into a rhythm. These engines powered American Agriculture that was a mainstay of farms before electricity.  

A bag of freshly cooked pigskins purchased to munch on while watching the cookers as they poked and stirred the delicacy, bringing the skins out at just the right time. There was a tractor pull, a pedal tractor race for the young ones and the ladies competed in throwing a skillet at something other than their husbands backs. The men competed in throwing an engine piston and although we did not see it this time, there is usually an anvil shoot. 

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There is a blacksmith at a coal forge and the smith was bending steel with heat and sweat into something useful or beautiful or both. There was a young man at the fire and anvil and it was good to see the old trade kept alive. 

There were not as many antique tractors on display this fall as there are in the spring. While looking at the old workhorses I spied an old two cylinder popping John Deere. Nothing sets the heart aflutter like an old popping John under a load. (Except perhaps an old pan head Harley at an idle). We got to see a Ford Tractor that was the model after the 8n and 9n classics. At first, I thought one Ford tractor might have been a Jubilee model but alas, on closer inspection it was not.  

A highlight of the trip was watching the huge old 60-horsepower cotton gin motor being prepared to start by an army of young and old men. These guardians of past technology swarmed over the huge engine like ants ensuring everything was greased, oiled, cleaned and ready to start up. The men cleared back and then the old classic fired off with a thunder of low pops and huge smoke rings floating into the trees. 

If engines and tractors are not your cup of tea, then there is live music, festival food, games and rides. The antiques for sale are of every variety and type from birdhouses to hames and harnesses. 

Next spring if the Double Decker is on the same weekend as the Flywheel Festival I will have to go to where I can hear anvils ring, smell pigskins cooking and hear old engines. Besides, it is nice to talk to folks who know what a single tree is or what a double yoke plow does.