In the world of antique tractor shows, the event put on by the Crossroads of Dixie Club is still a whippersnapper. But youth sometimes trumps experience, and this show is a fine example of that.
Held at Lawrenceburg in extreme south-central Tennessee, the Crossroads of Dixie show celebrated its 11th anniversary in August 2007. Nearly 1,000 tractors from all over the southeast congregated at the Rotary Park and visitors swarmed over the display. But bucking the trend at many shows, the Crossroads club downsized its event last summer.
"We put three days into two days," says Crossroads club President Russell Counce. "Those days were plum full, but we liked it a whole lot better." More than 300 tractors were featured in pulls both nights, and tractor games filled in the gaps.
The show has grown quickly. "Our first show, 11 years ago, cost $1,200 to put on," Russell recalls. "People were kind of sniggering and laughing when we said were going to put on a tractor show in Lawrenceburg. I said 'you just watch.' After the first one, they all wanted on the bandwagon."
Some 200 tractors showed up for the first show, a one-day display at the city park. The next year, the club added a tractor pull and 400 tractors came in. The next year, the show stretched to a second day, and exhibitors brought 800 tractors. It's grown like topsy ever since.
H.A. Threet, one of the event's founding fathers, said a friendly, down-home atmosphere sets the Crossroads of Dixie show apart. "At that first show 11 years ago, I shook the hand of every person who drove a trailer through that gate," he says. "People have made this show what it is today."
Exhibitor William Kilgore, Nauvoo, Ala., agrees. "This is one of the biggest shows in the area," he says, "but it's just a good environment. People here are nice and friendly." He brought an immaculately restored 1952 Ford 8N to the Crossroads show last August. "When I got it, it was a piece of junk," he says. "It sat forever in a shed, and it wasn't a dry shed." Today, the tractor is a regular on the show circuit. "I don't fish or chase women," William says with a grin. "But I go to every show I can."
Just down the aisle from William's Ford was a pair of stand-out Fergusons - a 1956 TO-35 and a 1957 FE-35 - displayed by Ed and Dean Nix, Lawrenceburg, and their son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Felecia Nix.
Ed bought the TO-35 from his cousin. "As soon as I saw it, I fell in love," he says. Sometimes, though, love, is blind. "About all the paint was gone," he recalls. "The rear fenders had dents and below the grille it was all rusted out. We took it completely apart, stripped it down and overhauled the engine. Then we had the hood and the fenders painted." The family's first restoration project was a success. "It runs well," Ed says. How well? "This tractor is going to win the slow race," Felecia says confidently.
The FE-35, manufactured in England, was even more of a project. "There was a lot more to this one," Ed says. The tractor's unique "copper bottom" paint job was done for one year only, from October 1956 to October 1957. Before that year, the model was painted gray and green; afterwards, gray and red. Many were exported, mainly to Canada.
Charles Hood, Franklin, Tenn., showed another British transplant: a 1948 Series 2 Field Marshall manufactured in Gainsborough, Great Britain. The single-cylinder diesel engine generated 40 hp. "It weighs 6,500 pounds. When it idles, it bounces off the ground. But it could pull two plows for eight hours on just 4 gallons of fuel," he says, recalling the days of his youth when diesel sold for 6 cents a gallon.
Charles' Field Marshall is part of a diverse collection. "I'm kind of like Dolly Parton," he muses. "I've got many colors: Cockshutt, Allis-Chalmers, International … they all run, but they're not all painted."
At the other end of the size scale at Lawrenceburg is the compact 1933 Worthington Model B owned by Billy and Jean Millaway, Cleveland, Tenn. A product of the Worthington Mower Co., Stroudsburg, Pa., the Worthington got its start with Ford Model T components but later shifted to Model A parts. It was commonly used as a golf course mower. "There was a Pennzoil commercial years ago with Arnold Palmer on this same tractor," Jean recalls. Billy restored the tractor, a relic from his childhood.
Family ties were evident in another exhibit as well: the 1938 Huber LC shown by Robert Alexander, Columbia, Tenn. Robert's father, H.T. Alexander, bought the tractor new in Cadiz, Ky. He raised row crops and did custom threshing using a Huber Supreme 22-40 thresher. Today, the tractor remains in the family. Bentley Alexander, grandson of the original buyer, now owns the tractor.
The tractor looms large in Robert's earliest memories. "I was 4 years old when Dad bought it," he says. "I remember the day he drove it into the yard." He also remembers the tractor's dependability. "My dad only overhauled it once, in 1945. He used it to pull a wheat thresher, and that's hard on a tractor, running it eight to 10 hours a day," he says. "But it really held up well."
"Huber is a rarity around here," he adds. "The Huber museum at Marion, Ohio, keeps a registry on documented Hubers. There's two in Kentucky and one in Tennessee."
You can find bigger shows than the one put on in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. And for sure you can find older shows. But if you're looking for great variety in a cozy, friendly atmosphere, head for the Crossroads of Dixie. You won't be disappointed! FC
For more information: Russell Counce, (931) 829-2514; www.crossroadsofdixie.com