Traction engine to star at Leeston's 150th party

An English ''Showman's Engine'', Quo Vadis, is set to be the star attraction at the Leeston Country Fair and Vintage Rally. Supplied photo
An English ''Showman's Engine'', Quo Vadis, is set to be the star attraction at the Leeston Country Fair and Vintage Rally. Supplied photo

Two British traction engines are set to help Leeston celebrate its 150th birthday from March 28 to March 30. 

Organising committee member Sarah Crozier said the steam engines would be the star attractions at the Country Vintage Fair and Rally.

''They are known as `Showman's Engines' and were used to transport and drive fairground rides to fairs across Britain from the 1880s through to the 1930s. They are generally painted in bright colours, along with shiny brass decorations.''

She said most models had a full-length canopy and a belt-driven dynamo to provide electricity for the rides.

One of the engines, known as Quo Vadis, previously visited New Zealand in 2008.

The weekend's festivities will get under way with a street parade on Friday, March 28, from 6pm. Traction engines, old tractors, classic cars and anything else on wheels were expected to rumble up High St, en route to the Leeston Showgrounds, where the fair will be held.

Displays of threshing wheat with mills and chaff cutters would bring back to life what was once a common sight in the Leeston area, Mrs Crozier said.

Veteran, vintage and classic cars and trucks, antique stationary engines driving water pumps, blade shearing and shearing machines were also sure to bring back memories, she said.

''Vintage tractors and farm machinery are coming from all over the South Island, many by road, with their accommodation for the weekend being towed behind.''

A Model T Ford was also set to be assembled ''from the nuts and bolts up''.

Horses, big and small, including minis, Clydesdales and Arabs, would also be on display.

A large display of the distinctive Lanz Bulldog tractors and memorabilia was being organised by local tractor enthusiasts Gavin and Paul Millar and there would be vintage displays throughout the weekend, Mrs Crozier said.

Entertainment would include the Natural Magic Pirates, from New Brighton, parachute games, bouncy castles, face painting, gig rides, bumper boats and much more.

''We have workshops to inform you on everything from planning a home veggie garden to changing the oil in your car. Learn how to make jam, preserve fruit and prune roses.''

To keep with the 150 years' celebration, the weekend has a Victorian theme, so the public is encouraged to come dressed in ''Victoriana'' and to enter a best-dressed competition, Mrs Crozier said.

Entry to the fair is $5 adults, $2 children. For more information, go to www.leeston.co.nz.

Anyone who can provide a Lanz tractor, photos or memorabilia can contact (03) 324-3888. To participate in the vintage display contact Stu Donald (03) 324-4280.

An expo was also being set up to show all that Leeston has to offer. Any clubs and associations wanting to take part can contact Grant Clausen on (03) 324-3227.

- by David Hill