With life’s modern conveniences, it can be easy to take for granted how the laundry gets done, how the beets get harvested, or how the peanuts get shelled.

It wasn’t that long ago that such tasks took a good chunk of time. Advances in agricultural machinery eventually sped things up and automated what were once hands-on efforts, leaving behind a host of farming antiques along the way.

The Raitt Homestead Farm Museum is hoping to give visitors an education on those implements of farming history during its 16th annual Eliot Antique Tractor and Engine Show, which runs Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31.

More than 500 exhibitors from around the country are expected to showcase their tractors, farm equipment and hit-and-miss engines. Lisa Raitt, volunteer events coordinator at the farm museum, said the property is simply brimming with the machinery of yesteryear during the three-day show.

“The whole field is just filled with anything you can think of, and the exhibitors bring different things each year,” she said.

This year, for instance, there will be a 1920s Hildreth Bros. wood splitter on display and a 10-horsepower Evans engine.

“It’s from the 1900s, a rare one that was used for farming. It’s huge. Guys think, ‘Oh, 10 horsepower, that’s not that big,’ but the flywheels are 5 feet tall,” Raitt said.

Unique items abound on the grounds, according to Raitt, and even visitors who have attended in the past are sure to see plenty of new things.

Most of the machines will even be doing their work while on display — from shelling peanuts to washing laundry — so visitors can see firsthand how the contraptions operate. Exhibitors will also be available to answer questions about the equipment.

With all those engines going in a field of farming antiques, the show should keep the senses busy and the kids entertained.

“All you hear is the hit-and-miss engines chugging. And the tractors are all in a line and the kids are climbing all over them,” said Raitt, who added that there’s something about tractors that kids simply find fascinating.

“It’s a lot more visual for them. It’s making noise. It’s so interactive. They get how it works and they’re learning a lot from that.”

Visitors can peruse the tractor lineup during the show, or catch the tractors playing follow the leader during the tractor parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Everybody gets on their tractors and they go around the whole property. People line up along the tractor route to watch,” Raitt said. “You’ll see a 1-year-old riding on his great-grandfather’s lap on a piece of machinery. Or four, five generations of a family together.”

The show includes an auction on Friday at 5 p.m. (bring an auction item to get in free) and a crafter and flea market all weekend.

The Southern Maine Garden Tractor Club will begin its garden tractor pulling on Friday at 6 p.m., and kids will have a chance to drive tractors their own size during the kids’ pedal tractor pull at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. They’ll pedal their tricycle tractors in the same pulling ring where the big guys do it and every kid gets a ribbon for participating. Kids can also take a barrel tractor ride for $4.

Those who are less interested in the machinery can participate in the skillet toss on Saturday. The 3.5-pound pan is supplied and there are prizes for the top tossers. And all visitors are welcome to scope out the 1858 Beals Remington revolver that fell out of a soffit during roof repairs to the museum’s main farmhouse this spring.

The weekend also includes raffles, artisans and homemade sweets like strawberry shortcake and whoopie pies. But those noisy engines are the show’s real bounty — and a testament to an agricultural past.

The shingle mill, which will be on display churning out old-fashioned shingles, will even play a role in an agricultural future: Those shingles will make their way to the apple barn and other buildings on the farm museum property.

Show attendees can even purchase a branded shingle for $1 as a memento of the show and a reminder of how much easier life is thanks to antique engines.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected]