Gas Up event in Schoharie County enjoys big Father’s Day crowd


A steel-wheel tractor cruises by during the parade at the annual Gas Up event sponsored by the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association at Murphy Road in Gallupville Sunday.

GALLUPVILLE — With a 1949 classic red Diamond T pickup in the background, Bobby Chandler of Rotterdam dropped to a knee and took a Father’s Day selfie with his three children — twins Bobby and Mikey, who turn 6 later this week, and 8-year-old Kennedy.

The Chandlers attended the final installment of the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association’s annual Gas Up show, an exhibit of antique gas engines, tractors, and farm equipment that spanned two weekends.

Early 20th century automobiles circled the grounds, while spectators delighted in an old powered sawmill.

All of the engines that were up and running participated in a parade, and there were long lines of patrons waiting for homemade ice cream and the snack bar.

“It’s something I used to always do with my father for Father’s Day,” Chandler said, adding his father, brother and nephew were elsewhere on the grounds. “We decided it would be an awesome thing to do.”

Having been raised on a farm, Chandler said it was nice “to be able to see all the old equipment; it’s something that’s really hard to be able to find anywhere else.”

Nathan Becker walked slowly while monitoring his 9-year-old daughter Claire as she drove a tractor with a front-end loader that her 6-year-old brother Eric sat comfortably inside of.

Becker grew up in Schoharie County but now lives three hours away in Hackettstown, New Jersey. He said he still comes because of his love for machines and his father-in-law is an exhibitor at the show.

“It’s a family tradition,” and wrapping up the event on Father’s Day made it “extra special,” said Becker, who donned a “#1 Dad” t-shirt that his kids made for him, their handprints imprinted on the shirt each year.

Now in its 54th year, the four-day event is always held during two weekends, ending on Father’s Day. It starts the weekend prior.

Frank Beretz, president of the 200-member association, said it was their strongest turnout ever.

“We don’t know if it’s the fine weather, or people dying to get out in the open,” he said.

The club purchased the 6.5-acre property and took ownership as of April 1, replacing its water and electrical infrastructure, Beretz said.

All exhibitors displayed at their own expense. There was no admission or parking fee, but the club accepts donations to maintain the grounds and did “very well” in that regard, Beretz said.

“They’ll give you what they feel is appropriate,” he said.

“It’s going to be a record year as far as taking in donations,” said his wife and club treasurer Jonnie Beretz.

A corner display of a drag saw that was built in 1910 by the Ireland Machine Co. of Norwich drew a lot of attention. The exhibitor, Joshua Trudell of Red Hook, said it’s run by a 5-horsepower Fairbanks engine that was built in 1902. He said his father acquired the engine via a trade, after searching 35 years for one.

“We’ve explained how this engine runs probably 10 times today,” Trudell said. “People are fascinated by this. They didn’t understand it existed, and an engine runs smooth that’s 119 years old. It’s just an amazing part of the show.”

Trudell also spoke of how wonderful it was to be at a well-attended event again, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic winding down.

“Finally we can go back to halfway normal society, how it was before, and be out there with society again and see friends. It’s great.”

Attendees also took notice of Eric Butler’s 20-year restoration of a gleaming green 1925 Garford truck that the J.C. Dearstine Lumber Co. of Schenectady used to travel from the city to Montreal, at a top speed of 17 mph.

Butler, the son of Jonnie Beretz, said Dearstine Lumber had six such vehicles and six horses for deliveries.

Butler said he traveled to Canada for an engine part. The original cam shaft was ruined, he said.

“They way overloaded it in the back and the frame was bent,” he said of the condition he found the vehicle in. “There was not much of this when I first got at it; it was overgrown and buried and there was just enough of the wood to restore the cab and figure out how things were made. The deck and the engine was seized up.”

The lengthy project entailed “going out to my woods and cutting down oak trees and starting from standing trees to make all the framework for the cab and the deck,” said Butler, the vice president of engineering at Simmons Machine Tools in Menands, which designs and builds machinery for the railroad industry. 

The exhibitor said he’s most proud of doing all the work himself, “and that it combines a number of different disciplines of mechanics, machining, woodworking and brings them all together in one cool project that is reflecting local history.”

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