Houston plays host to flywheelers

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

HOUSTON – A flywheel is a mechanical device with a significant moment of inertia used as a storage device for rotational energy.
A flywheeler is someone who shows up in Houston twice a year to participate in one of the regions premier down-home festivals.
This weekend, Houston will have both when it hosts the annual spring two-day Mississippi Valley Flywheel Association Flywheel Festival on Friday and Saturday.
The festival, which also is held each September, draws thousands of visitors from all over the United States to Houston to view displays of antique steam and gasoline engines and tractors.
“It is one of the smaller shows in the South but people repeatedly tell me they like the smaller shows because they are more hometown,” said Harry Collins of the Mississippi Valley Flywheelers Association. “It’s really got a flavor all its own and is something Houston needs to be proud of.”
Friday’s schedule includes live entertainment and a catfish supper, while Saturday features a pancake breakfast, a parade and tractor pulls.
The event got started years ago with a group of men who loved working with their hands and loved the memories they had of tinkering with old-time farm machines.
Many people, including club members, had no idea old engines, grist mills, whistles, tractors, water pumps, corn shellers, plows, wrenches, cornbread cooking items, railroad lanterns, apple peelers, magnetos, water rams and shingle mills could still draw a crowd.
Over the years the Flywheel Festival has grown to include arts and crafts exhibitors, flea market booths and food vendors.
The fun revolves around a steam traction engine manufactured by the Keck-Gonnerman, in the 1920s. This is the only operating steam tractor in Mississippi today and it is fired up every spring and fall.
It is on permanent display in the Joe Brigance Park in Houston.