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Antique engines exert powerful pull in Bernardston

  • Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine Show on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine Show on Saturday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Fas Engine Show on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Fas Engine Show on Saturday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • A 1918 tractor at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine show on Saturday<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    A 1918 tractor at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine show on Saturday
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine Show on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Bill Baronas slices a piece of wood on his steam-powered saw at the Bernardston Flea Market and Fas Engine Show on Saturday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • A 1918 tractor at the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine show on Saturday<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

BERNARDSTON — It may have been hard to hear above the pops and hisses of their old steam- and gas-powered engines, but participants in Bernardston’s annual Flea Market and Gas Engine Show had plenty to share about the origins of their machines.

South Deerfield resident Bill Baronas casually sliced logs of wood using a large steam-powered saw that his grandfather had won in an auction nearly a century ago. The saw, made sometime before 1920, sat in a family barn for over 50 years before Baronas’ father got it working again.

Now that he’s retired, it’s Baronas’ turn to play with the saw. For years, he accompanied his father to gas engine shows, and he’s happy to continue the family tradition.

“My father used to say, ‘Gas engines ... there’s hundreds of them. But you only see one of these,’” he said.

In another section of the nearly three acres of gas engine display space, 21-year-old Chester resident Nate Bolduc was also showing off one of his toys.

He was driving a 1918 tractor that he bought last year from a Montana resident for $5,500. It was rusty, but in good working shape, still using many of its original parts.

“My dad and I got a plane and flew out there, put it in the back of a U-Haul truck and drove home,” said Bolduc, with a grin. “We brought it to Mount Rushmore, too.”

It took him two months to repair it. The first time Bolduc used it, he recalled being so excited that he called everyone on his cell phone to invite them over to see it run.

The aging artifacts, along with the hundreds of trinkets and handmade goods available at the flea market, makes the event a big hit every year, said organizer Bob Allen of the United Church of Bernardston.

“Some of these families have been coming here for 10, 15, 20 years,” said Allen. “They can walk around. They can shop. They can go back and see stuff they’re never going to see again.”

The free event, in its 38th year, attracts between 6,000 and 10,000 people annually, said Allen. A Friday night auction raised $2,300, only $200 under the highest total to date.

Just under 100 vendors rented out space in the flea market to set up tarps and tables with their goods. Passersby could walk down grassy paths, with street names like Deacon Avenue, to peruse items like wooden utensils, handmade goat milk soap and retired street signs.

Engine sales were discussed. Food booths were packed. And some lucky winners went home on Sunday with a brand new tractor.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com, 413-772-0261, ext. 264, or on Twitter @RecorderShores

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