Crafts, old tools, tractors in abundance at 13th Engine, Tractor Show, Sept. 27-29 in Cookeville

The good old days come alive again at the 13th Annual Antique Gasoline Engine and Tractor Show. The three-day event gets underway Friday, Sept. 27, at the W. Clyde Hyder-Tommy Burks Agricultural Pavilion near Cookeville, with plenty to see and do for people of all ages.

Co-sponsored by Tennessee Technological University's School of Agriculture and the Middle Tennessee Antique Engine and Tractor Association, the event promises an abundance of old farm equipment and antique tools, as well as a wide variety of craft exhibitors from across the Upper Cumberland and around the United States.

"The show is designed to entertain the entire family," said Del Heffelfinger, president of the Middle Tennessee Antique Engine and Tractor Association. "It encompasses the history of agriculture. For the young, it's a comparison of technology; for the old, it's a bit of nostalgia."

Visitors will find dozens of crafts demonstrations, including furniture, stained glass and leatherworking. More than 50 booths will fill the show ring of the Hyder-Burks Pavilion, displaying and selling everything from Christmas decorations to handmade pottery. The show also includes hundreds of antique items such as toys and pedal cars. The public is encouraged to bring antique tools, parts and other implements for sale or trade at the swap tent.

One of the many talented artisans who will display at the craft show is Rick Lee of Cookeville, a leather craftsman who has created pieces for people around the world, from policemen to movie producers to country music artists.

"I started when I was about 10 years old with my grandfather in Oklahoma," Lee said. "He was a native American, and I was born at a Navajo Army Depot. We supplemented our income by hunting animals and selling the leather."

Today Lee supports himself entirely with his leatherwork, and one of his claims to fame is he doesn't use modern equipment. All his pieces are made by hand the way they were more than 100 years ago.

"All my pieces are hand cut and hand sewn," he said. "For a bullet belt, one loop takes 26 stitches, and each loop takes about 10 to 12 minutes to complete. There can be 40 or 50 loops on a belt, so it takes a while."

Lee makes a wide variety of leather items, including baby booties, molded camera cases and pistol holsters, book binders and gear for rappelling and rescue. His customers include Garth Brooks, many area law enforcers and even members of the U.S. ground forces in Sarajevo, who find Lee's rifle slings hold up well in the harsh conditions of the Balkans.

Another local artisan whose works will be displayed at the event is Susan Lavallee of Walker Mountain Stained Glass Art near Cookeville.

"There are various ways of doing stained glass," Lavallee said. "I design my own patterns. It makes my work more personal and original."

Lavallee does both small and large pieces, sometimes incorporating other media like cross-stitch designs, into her prismatic, glowing work.

Lavallee says spectators can count on having a good time and seeing unusual wares. "There is such a variety of crafts that are really lost arts, like basket weaving and making rocking chairs. And I enjoy meeting people, too."

Admission to the show is $2 with children under 12 free. The Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion is located 2.2 miles west of Cookeville on Highway 290-Gainesboro Grade. Events begin at 10 a.m., Friday, and continue through Sunday afternoon.