First Things

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Nancy SmithNancy Smith

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Temperatures climbed comfortably into the 60s and partly sunny skies kept sunburns at bay as Pioneer Park Days unfolded this year in Zolfo Springs, Fla.

Boy, what a fun way to start the show season! Familiar fired-up engine smells mingled soothingly with such Southern food aromas as deep fried 'gator (as in alligator), boiled peanuts and strawberries. We'd sit and chat under the palm trees with tractor and engine exhibitors, eat a bit, sit and chat, eat a bit. You know.

Driving along Florida State Route 64 from Tampa to Zolfo Springs, we saw orchard after orchard of orange trees, their crops mostly harvested for the year. Farming differs dramatically there from here in Kansas, and seeing all those orchards made us wonder what sort of machinery would predominate at the show. Would it be all hi-crop and orchard tractors?

Well, no, as a matter of fact. Most of the tractors at Zolfo looked so familiar, we could have BEEN in Kansas - except for those palm trees and the temperatures. With so much to see and do, I made no 'official' count, but I can remember seeing only one hi-crop -Norm Nickerson's impressive John Deere 420, pictured on page 28 of this issue. And only one orchard tractor - a scale-model Allis-Chalmers.

The diversity of the tractors at Zolfo no doubt reflects the 'reunion' character of the show - with snowbird farmers coming in from all parts of the country, and bringing their favorite machines from home.

It also surely reflects the lengths, literally, you die hard collectors of old iron will go to get your hearts' desire. And it shows that although agricultural crops differ dramatically from coast to coast, vintage farm equipment looks, feels and smells quite familiar all across the USA. We thank Jane Long, Pioneer Park Days coordinator, and each of you who took the time to talk with us or be photographed by us - or feed us! We're looking forward to the next show, up north here somewhere, and we're ready to return to Zolfo anytime.