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IronmasterDays offers fun in sun

Charlie and Kathryn Moore, of Kenova, W.Va., wandered among the antique tractors and engines Saturday morning and surveyed the selection of wheels and machinery.

It was their first trip to the annual Ironmaster Days.

"I just love old tractors," Charlie Moore said. "They have this in Greenup every year and we try to get to it. I'm just fascinated by them."

Ironmaster Days, which began Thursday evening, is an annual event meant to preserve and display the city's heritage while bringing people downtown to shop and have fun.

Dave Wells and Di Isaac of Ironton came to Saturday morning's activities also.

They got there in Wells' 1962 red and white Chevrolet Nova. Wells said he likes festivals that feature, "anything older than me."

There were plenty of things on display at Ironmaster Days that were older than Wells - older than most people there, in fact.

Jim Bess, of Tornado, W.Va., brought his 1923 15-horsepower Fairbanks Morse oil engine.

"The C&O Railroad had it at Logan, W.Va.," Bess explained. "It ran water pumps. They pumped into the water tank with it for a steam locomotive."

It is, he said, one of the favorites in his collection of old engines - and one of his grandchildrens' favorites, too, apparently. They have lovingly nicknamed the old engine, "Thumper" because of the sound it makes.

Tom Collier, of Load, Ky., brought his 1925 25-horsepower oil engine. The old engine was once used to run pumps for oil wells.

"It was put on the wells in 1925 and taken off in 1991," Collier explained.

And the engine is still running. Like Bess, Collier said he thinks some of these old engines are still humming along because they were made to outlast their makers.

"I think it was just the way it was built," Collier said. "Back then things were built to last."

Shirley Adkins of Proctorville can attest that Collier and Bess may be right. His 1951 Ford tractor still runs.

"One thing is, it's easy to work on. I can work on it. Henry Ford made it so farmers could work on it," he said. "It's simple. It was made to last and last."

In addition to the tractors

and old machinery, food vendors lined up along a portion of Third Street near the Ironton City Center that was closed off to accommodate the festivities.

At the opening ceremonies, Irontonian Lou Pyles was honored with the Ironmaster of the Year award.

"I've known her a couple of years and she is always a hard-working person. Everything she does is 100 percent. It was a no-brainer when we were deciding who would be nominated," said Ironton Business Association President Rich Patrick.

Pyles said she was humbled by the award.

"This is the last thing I thought I would ever get," she said. "But I really enjoy doing community work."

The activities continued with a bicycle rodeo for kids.

Members of the River Cities Safe Coalition handed out goodie bags with coloring books and safety stickers to area children who could enter drawings to win free helmets and take part in an obstacle course aimed at teaching and improving bike safety habits.

"We want them to know you can ride safely but you still have to think," said Mike Boster of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency. The EMA is a member of the safe kids coalition.

"There are hazards but they can be avoided if you use your head a little."

The annual event wrapped up Saturday evening with live music.