Gas Up seeks donations to buy its own real estate

Enterprise file photo — John R. Williams

Suds! A young lady at the Gas Up was running a small hit-and-miss engine that powered a pump when it was overwhelmed with soapsuds. “Apparently no one told her that creek water was very soft and it takes only a little detergent to make suds,” said John R. Williams.

GALLUPVILLE — For five decades, The Hudson Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association has held its annual Gas Up show — an exhibit of antique engines — on a Gallupville property that’s privately owned and graciously lent out. Now, the association has an opportunity to purchase the roughly 7-acre portion of the land it uses, and is asking for community donations to meet the $65,000 asking price.

“[The show] has been there for 53 years and it’s never been our land,” Barbara Liddle, whose grandfather, Elmer Cornell, co-founded the association chapter in 1967, told The Enterprise “… It’s always been privately owned and someone always let us use it for the four days — we have two weekends and we do a Saturday-Sunday show, and we do two of them back-to-back in June.”

Cornell’s cofounder, Ronnie Rolfe, was the original owner of the Murphy Road property that hosted the Gas Up show. After Rolfe died, the property was purchased by Charles Stewart Jr., Liddle said. He preserved the agreement held between Rolfe and the gas-engine association, allowing the event to continue without complication.

Now, Liddle said, Stewart is selling the property and he gave the association the opportunity to purchase the seven acres. The association hopes that, with the purchase, the land can serve as a community meeting place where functions are held year-round.

Stewart could not be reached for comment.

Liddle said that, as of Friday morning, the association has raised $27,000 from community members and local businesses, leaving a further $38,000 to be raised.

“It’s just such a tough time of year with everything going on,” Liddle said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “There’s no money there for grants and stuff, so we’re trying our best.”

The Gas Up show is a popular regional attraction, drawing over a thousand visitors each year, by Liddle’s estimate. It features antique automobiles fixed up and in operating condition, along with food and merchandise.

“We call it a historical antique fair,” Liddle said. “That’s what it kind of looks like, you know what I mean? There’s no campers; it’s all antique stuff. Everything is running. It’s hands-on with the kids; kids can actually do things and the parents love that, too.” 

Over the years, the seven-acre parcel has been developed to accommodate the goings-on of the summertime attraction, Liddle said.

“We have a big huge barn on there,” she said, “we have some ice-cream booths. There are some buildings that we created ourselves and [Stweart] let us leave that on there, even though it was his property.” 

“This is a big opportunity,” Liddle said of the possibility of owning the land outright. “We’ve never had anyone offer it to us before.”


Donations for the land purchase may be mailed to: Hudson-Mohawk Pioneer Gasoline Engine Association (HMPGEA), care of Jonnie Jo Beretz, 1124 Turnbull Road, Delanson, NY 12053.


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