04/04/04 — Antique tractors to be displayed

View Archive

Antique tractors to be displayed

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 4, 2004 9:22 AM

The third annual Antique Farm Equipment Days show is coming to the Wayne County Fairgrounds the first weekend in May, with events starting at 9 a.m. on both days.

Admission is $5, and children under 12 get in free.

Jerry McGinnis, president of the Eastern Carolina Vintage Farm Equipment Club, says Saturday is going to be the big day of the two-day event. The show will feature displays, crafts and lots of food.

One of the features is the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull. The children will also find a petting zoo and other entertainment.

The regular tractor pull is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, and is sponsored by the Duplin Antique Tractor Pullers Association. The tractor pulls normally last until about 11:30 p.m., said McGinnis.

Last year, there were 222 tractors participating in the tractor pull and probably more than 300 tractors present, plus another 40 "hit-and-miss engines," he said.

McGinnis described a hit-and-miss engine as one like those made from the late 1800s until around the 1940s or '50s. They were made to "hit" regularly when pulling a load. But when no load was being pulled, they would hit, the wheel would fly around for a while until it needed more power, and then the engine would hit again.

Engines vary in size from a three-quarter horsepower washing machine size engine to a 15-horsepower Bessimer that will fill up an average sized kitchen.

"Back then, they made them big, but they ran slow," said McGinnis.

One of the exhibits will be a miniature sawmill pulled by a handmade steam engine. The Model A Club will also have an antique car display.

"We have some horse and mule pulled equipment coming, like plows and cultivators," said McGinnis. "I assure you if you come, you'll see things you've never seen. We encourage people to ask questions, because most of these people who have a old tractors want to talk about it."

A Kiddie Tractor Race is scheduled for Sunday. That's a lot of fun to watch, said McGinnis. "They have a miniature sled they pull."

The Sunday event, which also includes a tractor rodeo, will continue until about 5 p.m.

The club formed in February 2001 with 35 people interested in old farm equipment.

Today, the club has 70 members. The club meets on the first Thursday of each month, except this month. Meetings are held every other Thursday until the weekend of the show comes.

"New members are welcome to join," said McGinnis, who can be reached at 735-5503. "We don't require a tractor or engine, just an interest in the old stuff."

The oldest active member is S.T. Beamon, who has a picture of himself sitting on one of his 19 antique Allis Chalmers tractors. That picture will appear on the buttons the exhibitors will wear at the show.

"Most of the shows whenever you go, you register your equipment and get a button to wear," said McGinnis.

About a third of the members are women, and two women are board members, said McGinnis.

Larry Lassiter, a member of the club's board of directors, said the club does demonstrations in the public schools. "Last year we made seven gallons of homemade ice cream and cooked 140 hot dogs for the fourth graders at Carver Elementary School," he said. "We did it a couple of days before school was out for the summer. They asked a lot of questions about it. The children really enjoyed it."

Those interested in having the club provide a demonstration or exhibit can contact Lassiter at 738-4458.

For the past couple of years, the club has had displays of tractors, engines and plows at the Wayne County Agricultural Fair. There were 60 pieces of equipment in the display last year, he said. "There's a lot of adults that don't know about it," he said. "We've had people 80 years old come by the exhibit, and they'd never seen it."

The club provided home made ice-cream for the senior citizens at the Wayne County Fair. Lassiter said the shows and the exhibits are lot of fun. "We chew tobacco and tell tales."

No alcohol, drugs or profanity are allowed at the shows. They're geared toward the family. Sheriff's deputies provide security.

The club took part in its first show of the season last weekend. "We've got nine or 10 shows we go to," said Lassiter. "We go to theirs, and they come to ours. It makes the shows huge."

The board has approached Wayne County Chamber of Commerce officials about including information about the club in its welcome package for new arrivals. One of the hotel chains has the club on its web site.

The club's next event will be displays of old engines and tractors at Wal Mart on April 17 and 18 and at Sam's Club on April 25.

Eventually, the club wants to provide a scholarship to someone pursuing an agriculture-related career.