Antique tractor parade pulls people in to see a little history
West Haven • What better way to start a tractor parade than to meet over sweet rolls at Moore's Family Restaurant to discuss dangers of sharing the roadway with speeding motorists.
"Tractors can be tough, but when they get hit they do tend to come apart," advised Bob Harvey, safety officer for Great Basin Antique Machinery Branch 95. "Use common sense."
"And don't flip anybody off," injected one of the 20 or so members meeting just before the Saturday parade.
To press his point, Harvey passed around photographs of the hulking wreck of a Farmall tractor, which had been parked off Gentile Street last year when it was hit by a passing motorist.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been a Case" tractor, quipped Bob Brimhall, who owns a 1953 row crop VAC, manufactured from 1942 to 1955.
Gi Gi Riggs differed from that opinion: She owns four Farmalls, known for their distinctive bright red color. "If it ain't red, leave it in the shed," she said, repeating International Harvester Company's slogan printed on tin signs advertising the all-purpose Farmall tractor.
Jennifer Hansen remembers repeatedly passing a 1951 Farmhall H model that had been for sale on the side of the road. Then one day last year, it was gone. "I felt so bad," she said.
Turns out her husband, Travis, had purchased it as a Christmas gift, and now she's using the tractor to dig post holes on their West Haven property. "I call her Big Red," she said. "And I don't let anyone drive her except me I mean, my husband can, too."
Antique Machinery branch enthusiasts are members of the National Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association, whose mission is to educate, restore and serve as a resource for vintage tractors, impacted so mightily by technology that "antique" is defined as any model older than 30 years.
Utah's 300 members in the state's four branches also take part in festivals and parades "to help people understand how that loaf of bread gets on your table," said Don Young, the association's southwest regional director, in a telephone interview. Young lives in Pearblossom, Calif., the state where the national group was founded in 1953.
All members share a love of America's agricultural history including Jeffrey East, one of the few members of the northern Utah branch who is a farmer. East, who grows alfalfa and wheat, prefers a Massey Ferguson, whose founding dates to 1847 when the Canadian company began manufacturing some of the world's earliest mechanical threshers. Today's brand name, AGCO, remains a major seller.
East counts six Massey Ferguson tractors among his collection of 13. No, says East's wife, Marveda. There are currently 14 tractors in the collection counting the 1959 John Deer 720 model her husband bought last week.
After breakfast, as the 15 tractors assembled to start the parade, Maggie Bradley climbed into a 1947 International Cub. It was the slowest model in the lineup, with a top speed of 7 mph, or 10 mph on gentle declines.
"You see so much more when you're going slow," she said. "You can see everybody's back yard and it's not that much different than driving a really slow car."
But the most pleasure in driving a tractor "is that everyone waves and gives us the thumbs up," said Bradley's sister Carolyn Lewis. "People love seeing old tractors. It just makes them happy."
Twitter@DawnHouseTrib Antique-machinery enthusiasts
Members educate the public, help with restoration and serve as a resource to civic groups. Some Utah antique-machinery groups:
Great Basin Antique Machinery Branch 95 • P.O. Box 17, Hooper, 84315
Color Country Antique Machinery Branch 134 • 925 S. 1775 East, Washington
Antique Machinery Branch 14 • 612 W. 360 South, Spanish Fork
Antique Machinery Branch 228 • P.O. Box 43, Trenton, 84338
Utah Antique Machinery Association • 14580 Camp Williams Road, Riverton
Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival
When • Oct. 27-29, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where • Cross Hollow Event Center, Cedar City
Info • cedarlivestockfest.com