Travel Back in Time at a Farm Show

Farm shows demonstrate ways of life for early pioneers

| February 1999

You don't need a time machine to travel back in time: Just take in one of hundreds of tractor, engine and farm shows held nationwide each year. Old-time farming methods, machinery and ways of life can be seen at as many as 600 shows and events held coast to coast from early spring to late fall (and during the winter in the Deep South). Activities and displays are as realistic as possible, thanks to the hard work and planning of an army of club members and volunteers.

In a fair-like atmosphere, watching and learning is fun and easy. Popular demonstrations range from sawing wood and doing other chores using small engine power, to field work powered by horses or antique tractors, steam threshing, and more.

Homemade meals, ice cream and the like are typical treats, along with a variety of events and contests. In the "Slow Race," for instance, the last tractor to cross the finish line wins. Such events are not only fun to watch, but illustrate how skillfully old tractors can be tuned and operated.

"You can see it all, from mules to steam traction engines, all doing something," says David Palmer, director of the Tennessee-Kentucky Thresherman's Show. The show features everything from an antique tractor pull to a mule pull. Also on tap: The Model T peddler's coupe used in the movie "The Green Mile," starring Tom Hanks.

Everyone, whether country bred or from the city, old to young, is welcome. "It's for anyone interested in historical agriculture production," David says. Les Friesen, a member of the Sky Valley Stock and Antique Tractor Club of Monroe, Wash., says his club particularly enjoys seeing city folk and youngsters at their annual threshing bee, set for Aug. 14-15.

"Our show provides displays of how the early pioneers lived and worked," he explains. "People from both the city and the farm can learn by watching and talking with the demonstrators. We also provide free rides for the kids on small trains pulled by riding lawn mowers. Hopefully, through these efforts, the kids will grow up to be antique tractor owners."