Bernardston Gas Engine Show finds new home at Pratt Field

  • An antique Ford tractor cruises through the 41st annual Bernardston Gas Engine Show and flea market Saturday, May 27, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Lloyd Nice, of Romford, Vt., rides with his brother Roger Nice, of Middleboro, on a 1922 Doodlebug tractor made from a Ford Model T at this year’s annual Bernardston Gas Engine Show and flea market on May 27. Recorder File photo

  • A row of antique tractors at the 41st annual Bernardston Gas Engine Show and flea market Saturday, May 27, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The annual Bernardston Gas Engine Show and flea market will be moving from a field off Route 10 to Pratt Field, located off South Street, in 2018. Graphic courtesy of the Bernardston Flea Market and Gas Engine Show Facebook page. Contributed graphic

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 08, 2017

BERNARDSTON — For the first time in the Bernardston Gas Engine Show’s 42-year history, the event will not be held in the field off Route 10 next year.

Instead, because of construction of a medical marijuana facility at the old location, Gas Engine Show and flea market organizers are moving the May event to Pratt Field, located just south of Kringle Candle.

Happy Valley Compassion Center, a nonprofit medical marijuana organization, received Planning Board approval Thursday to construct a 20,000-square-foot facility on the 7.66-acre lot that the organization leases from Sandri Companies through Crumpin-Fox.

Decades ago, the field was owned by the United Church of Bernardston, whose Property and Finance Committee members are the primary organizers of the annual Gas Engine Show, a church fundraiser. The Rev. David Neil of the United Church said that while the property owners were gracious to allow use of the empty field, organizers knew it would one day find a new purpose.

“We’ve been coming up with contingency plans,” Neil said. “As there was more and more evidence that the land would be used for something else, we said ‘We’ve got to get serious about that.’”

Canceling the May event altogether wasn’t something organizers were willing to face.

“The Gas Engine Show really benefits everybody in town,” Neil said. “It started off as a fundraiser, but it’s become a lot more than that. It’s become a community event, and we wanted to keep it going.”

As an alternative, the church was granted permission by the Selectboard to use the town-owned Pratt Field. Neil said the field offers about 30 percent more space than the Route 10 location and keeps the event in Bernardston. Additionally, it’s located across the street from the Police Department, whose officers help direct traffic.

“We’ll have more traffic down South Street, down (Routes) 5 and 10,” Neil said. “Maybe they’ll even stop into Kringle Candle.”

Neil said organizers look forward to designing a new setup that will work well given the event’s large crowds, noting that the old setup was used for years, even with increasing attendance.

“It’s going to be an adventure for sure,” he said. “Our workers and vendors will have to be a little bit patient with us as we figure it out.”

Neil said the Gas Engine Show will maintain the same schedule in the new spot, and assures attendees “we’re going to do everything we can to make the experience as much of a blast as it has been in the past.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at:

413-772-0261 ext. 257