Collectors Trek to the California Antique Farm Equipment Show

Each spring, collectors make the journey to Tulare, Calif. for the California Antique Farm Equipment Show

| June 1999

The groves and fields of Tulare, Calif., are lush with produce much of the year. But each April, a parking lot just outside of town is the area's top producer, growing a bumper crop of antique farm equipment. 

Held April 17-18, the California Antique Farm Equipment Show drew more than 600 exhibitors of everything from Aermotor engines to Yuba tractors. Now in its seventh year, the event emphasizes the Central Valley's agricultural heritage. A production of the International Agri-Center, where the event is held, the Tulare show presents a huge variety of tractors, engines and equipment.

Show organizers offer a full schedule: there's a greased pig contest, tractor pulls, entertainment, draft horse demonstrations, oxen and mules; a slow tractor race and daily equipment parades. But the real draw is the equipment, displayed bumper to bumper in a huge parking lot.

An orderly grid of chalk-line squares puts early crawlers next to a fleet of Fordsons with mirror-like surfaces. An International Harvester collector group sets up camp down the road. Stationary gas engines, steam engines, old industrial equipment and garden tractors are scattered throughout. Rust cozies up next to fresh paint; used-and-abused originals are side-by-side with lavishly restored treasures. Cross a not-to-be-missed show with a swap meet, throw in a dash of football game tailgating party, and you begin to get a sense of the Tulare show.

The equipment tells a dozen stories. Some of it – like the Field Marshall tractor made in England – is a collector's prize, brought to the show as a novelty. But much of the equipment relates a story unique to this nation's leading agriculture state. There are orchard tractors, tractors designed for specific crops, and track-type tractors of every conceivable size, shape and design.

Like much in California, H.G. "Herk" Bouris' Minneapolis 35-70 threshing machine is a transplant. Herk, a Menifee Valley rancher, speculates that it came from the Dakotas.