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Memorial Weekend Antique Tractor Show

By: Cindy Ladage

Editor's Note: Ms. Ladage is a co-author of the popular children's book, Tucker's Surprise. Brightly illustrated, the tale presents a timeless story of the love between granddad and grandson, set against the backdrop of antique tractors. You can pick up a copy for your young one for $9.50 by writing to:

Roots & Wings
20014 IL RT. 16
Nokomis, IL 62705

This Memorial Day Weekend dawned cloudy and rainy. For central Illinois this was not such a bad thing, as a dry winter and even drier spring cried out for any such relief. Water restrictions had been placed on Springfield, Illinois and many farmers in the region had been hauling water for months. The downpour was thus welcome by the people of the area. And while it did slow down the usual crowd, the rain didn't keep away the die-hard tractor buffs from the annual Strawberry Festival and antique tractor show.

The Anderson mansion is the home of the Macoupin County Historical Society, which held the annual Memorial Day Tractor Show

"Oliver" was this year's featured tractor, which was an Oliver 60 that will be raffled off by the Macoupin County Historical Society at their other annual festival in the fall. The Historical Society's spring and fall antique tractor show festivals bring together hundreds of visitors to see and enjoy the tractors, toys, flea markets, crafts, and of course good, homemade food.

Every year, the visitors can expect the ever-popular Strawberry shortcake, and homemade chicken and noodles. Even visitors without any interest in tractors whatsoever travel for miles for these home cooked delights. Pork chop sandwiches and lemon shake-ups add to the feeling that summer has finally arrived (except, of course, on Sunday when the mercury barely peaked at 60 degrees!).

David Bradley tractor on the grounds

Russell Steam Engine owned by Randy Ramseier

A variety of tractors found their way to the show throughout the day on Saturday. One family brought a truck full of David Bradley's. Randy Ramseier of Beneld, Illinois brought back his 1904 18 HP Russell steam engine that weighs in at 24,000 lbs. The Russell was stoked and running on steam, offering a view of how these massive machines moved and operated in the early days of modern farming, when threshers went from field to field.

The behemoth Russell Steam Engine tractor makes the rounds at the antique tractor show

My husband Keith brought his 1940 John Deere B and was one of a few other green tractors on display, among them Bob Huyear's John Deere G. Other tractor models at the show included a 1950 IH M with a special kit and GM diesel engine. This tractor, owned by Merle Stone, was only one of the many unique tractors to be seen at the show. Merle's brother Duane had a 1947 Co-Op.

Ed Chandler's MM 445

Bob Imhoff's IH 460 and Ray Swanson's 30 Massey were among some of the beautiful tractors that made it to the show this year. Ed Chandler had one of the only Minneapolis Molines. His MM 445 with its distinctive Prairie Gold stood out in the sea of tractors. But when looking for the unusual, Wayman Meredith wins the prize with his 1959 Fordson Power Major, which had been made in England. Very few of these tractors ever found their way over to America.

Wayman Meredith's 1959 British-built Fordson Power Major. While Ford started out producing their earliest tractors under the Fordson brand name, after the 1920's Fordsons were built only in England. Tractors built in America used the Ford brand name, and the two branches of the tractor division developed designs and marketed their machines separately from each other

This Fordson had the Ford blue frame and orange wheels that was standard on the English Fordson designs. Wayman said that the tractor has never been restored and is still in mint condition. The paint on the machine is hardly faded and the engine ran like a top.

A Ford joins the red line

Toy makers were also on hand at the Strawberry Festival. Roy Lee Baker and his wife Audrey brought along their miniature John Deere B that runs and will even pull a wagon. This toy is made from scratch and sits on a two-foot frame. Roy Lee has been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame and always provides quality items that are hand-made and are sure to boggle the mind.

Along with the tractors, gas engines sputtered out their distinctive tune in another corner of the grounds. Jim Langheim and Marjorie Bailey had a large display under a tent to keep the engines dry. "We have all kinds, an English Bamford, a Petter, a John Deere, two Fair Banks Morse, a Maytag, a Briggs & Stratton, plus a 1963 Wheel Horse," said Marjorie.

Besides the items on display, the Macoupin County Historical Society also offers several items that are permanent fixtures on the ground to view also. The most spectacular display is the restored Anderson mansion that is home to the Society and to the Macoupin Agricultural Antique Association. The mansion is a stunning combination of Italiante, Queen Anne and Stick stylings. Completed in 1892, tours of the mansion were available during the show and are also offered throughout the year.

The grounds also include a school house, a church, and a black smith shop, as well as a building that demonstrates what life was like in days gone by with antique machinery that would be used by those living on the farm.

The Memorial Day Weekend antique tractor show ran on Saturday and Sunday. While Saturday was cloudy and dry, storms rolled in that night which soaked the area. Sunday was clear and very cool. I sat at my booth selling copies of the book I co-authored, Tucker's Surprise, and tried to keep warm. Audrey Baker took pity on me and brought me a blanket as I shivered. It is this kindness, this sharing that truly makes these events so great to attend. Talking to people I have met through this great hobby was the highlight of the show. Keep Carlinville, Illinois in mind for next fall if you missed the spring festival this year. Even with a little wind and rain, it is worth the trip.