For the past 20 years the Village of East Davenport Iowa has heard the sounds of antique tractors echo of its historical buildings. Partnered with Deer Valley Collectors Tractor Club and the Village of East Davenport business owners that had a vision to bring this show, which now is one of our premier events that Deer Valley has, to this quaint setting. Eileen Groth, a past president of the club, along with Roger Peet and Tom Largomarcino came up with the idea. Roger owned a jewelry store and Tom still runs Largomarcino's ice cream and confectionery store first started by his grandparents in Moline, Illinois, and a popular business in the Quad Cities area. When Eileen first approach the board of directors of the club, they were skeptical of such an idea. Now It has grown from just tractors sitting along the street to an event that families can bring the kids to and learn to drive a tractor, take a wagon ride, shell corn, see how brooms were made and maybe even shop for a new lawn and garden tractor or full size one.
Our club members sell tickets for raffle prizes and Deer Valley also sells its own line of shirts and hats with the Deer Valley logo on it. We have a “Young Hands” program that helps jump start an interest in restoring a tractor or implement. Once complete, it is given a prominent location for viewing and the youngster can tell his story on its restoration. Visitors can watch as club members hook up their tractor to a dynometer to see how much horse power they have. We try to bring in things like hit-and-miss engines or run a wagon load of corn up an elevator. Those sounds and action draw parents and kids if something is moving. Some years we have had live entertainment, but that can get to be a large expense for our club. Our main mission now is to educate the city kids that the food they see in a grocery store came from somewhere. And what tractor show can be complete without parading? We parade around the Village at the close of both days. The show has evolved through the years from a carnival like atmosphere, to now concentrating on a mixture of past farming practices, current farming and most importantly, education. We have brought in the North Scott school district FFA (Future Farmers of America) to help with fun activities like making butter or help with the peddle tractor pull. The show is held the last weekend of August.
The Quad Cities is rich in agricultural history and still is today with employers such as John Deere. The Village of East Davenport was platted in 1851 as East Davenport. River boat pilots knew it as “Stubbs Eddy,” named for a hermit that lived in a cave at the river's edge. A sawmill once sat where the ball diamonds are now. Frederick Weyerhauser started here floating logs down the Mississippi from upper Iowa and Wisconsin. Camp McClellan was established nearby during the Civil War to house confederate prisoners and later to hold Sioux Indians. Before the lock and dam system, the Village sat at the base of the rapids that started near Leclaire, Iowa. During low water you could sometimes walk across the Mississippi. Pilots had to navigate carefully to avoid the hidden rocks. The first railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi was just downstream from the Village. It was destroyed by fire when the steamboat Effie Afton hit a pier. The steamboat company sued the railroad seeing the bridge as an impediment to navigation. The railroad hired a young attorney named Abraham Lincoln to represent them. So not only is the area a treasure trove for history buffs, it is an area rich with farming and our heritage to continue to show off our old iron.
Ed Vieth is the Current President of the Deer Valley Collectors and can be reached at (563) 271-3551.