July 25, 2021

Visitors experience historic ag equipment at show

PENFIELD, Ill. — Historic Farm Days gives visitors a glimpse into how farms operated in past decades.

“I want everyone to be able to see how it was done years ago with the equipment at the show and our museum of household items,” said Chuck Stelter, president of the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club. “I want people to see how agriculture has progressed over the years.”

Teaching people about agricultural practices becomes more important each year.

“A lot of people don’t understand where their food comes from,” Stelter said. “Look how many people we know who had a grandfather that farmed, but no one in their family since that has farmed, so people don’t know how food gets from the field to the processor to the store.”

Massey Ferguson, Minneapolis Moline and B.F. Avery tractors were featured at the recent Historic Farm Days event, organized by the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.

“Since we canceled the 2020 show, we decided to include last year’s features — Minneapolis Moline and B.F. Avery tractors,” Stelter said.

“We have 14 states represented of people who brought in equipment and usually we have close to 20 states of people coming to attend the show,” he said. “We have over 600 tractors and pieces of equipment that registered for the show.

“The good thing about a tractor show is you’ll see equipment you’ve never seen before,” Stelter said. “There are amazing things that come in.”

Stelter displayed two of his tractors at the show — a Case 800 and a Case VAC.

“We have nine tractors total, one John Deere, one Farmall and seven Cases,” said Stelter, who farms about 1,100 acres around the Illinois-Indiana border near Danville. “I joined the club about 16 years ago and I’ve been president for the past seven years.”

The four-day show July 8-11 featured lots of activities for those attending, including potato digging, tractor parades, tractor pulls and tractor games.

“The tractor games test people on how well they can back up between the lines and there’s an obstacle course,” Stelter said. “There’s a barrel push where they push the barrel with the front tire of the tractor to get it from one line to the other in the shortest amount of time.”

The tractor games are a fun time for drivers to test their skills.

“The guys with the narrow front tractors usually do better with the barrel push than the wide front tractors because the tires are together,” Stelter said.

For the first time this year an old-fashioned medicine show was part of Historic Farm Days.

“Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie did a good show and we filled all the seats plus golf cats and gators all around the pavilion,” Stelter said. “They also walked all around the grounds talking to people, doing magic tricks and everyone seemed to enjoy it.”

There is a very dedicated group of members, volunteers and friends from the area that help the I&I Club with the show each year.

“And we have a good crowd of people that comes back year after year because they know we put on a good show,” Stelter said.

The club likes to add new things to the annual show.

“That’s why we have a different feature tractor every year,” Stelter said. “And people like it when they can see more equipment of that featured brand.”

Ford tractors and Ford trucks will be featured at the 2022 show.

“The raffle tractor for next year is a unique Ford 8N that has a flathead V8 in it,” Stelter said. “There were a couple of companies that did conversions and pulled out the four-cylinder engines and put V8s in them.”

In 2023, the club will feature John Deere tractors.

“That will be the 100th anniversary celebration of the John Deere D tractors that came out in 1923,” Stelter said.

“Our raffle tractor for 2023 is a John Deere Spoker D that has spokes on the flywheel,” he said. “There was a problem with these because the flywheels would break so John Deere made a solid flywheel and most of the spoker flywheels got thrown away.”

Case tractors have been selected as the featured tractor for 2024.

“We will have the National J.I. Case Collectors Show here,” Stelter said.

For more information about Historic Farm Days, go to www.historicfarmdays.com.

Martha Blum

Field Editor