Historic Farm Days kicks off in Penfield
What sweetcorn is to Hoopeston and soda is to Homer, tractors will be to Penfield the next four days. Today kicks off Historic Farm Days, another of East Central Illinois' annual mark-your-calendars, must-see festivals, featuring tractors of all shapes and sizes, makes and models. Three things to know about the pride of Penfield (population: 193), care of Rantoul Press editor DAVE HINTON:
1 This year's main attraction is a man, not a machine.
Organizers have billed today's celebration as the "John Harvey Hootenanny," honoring the 79-year-old Delaware man who founded the enormously popular Classic Farm Tractor Calendar a quarter-century ago.
Fans love the nostalgia of old farm equipment. "It's American history," Harvey says, "and practically all of the tractors that appeared in the calendar were made in America."
Many of them are expected to make their way to the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club in time for today's 5:25 p.m. tribute, which will include a banquet, a giant birthday cake, door prizes and an auction of toy tractors and classic memorabilia owned by Harvey. Proceeds of the auction will go to Wounded Warriors.
2 I&I club president John Fredrickson is counting on a big crowd.
"We've been getting a lot of response from out-of-state people who plan to attend the show," he says.
Interest in vintage farm equipment continues to escalate, Frederickson says. One reason is return on investment.
"An antique tractor can increase in value as well as (give the owner) a lot of satisfaction of ownership," he says. "Instead of buying collector cars, (many) are buying collector tractors."
3 There's much more to see than the 1 p.m. daily tractor parade and Saturday night fireworks.
This year, Ford, New Holland and Versatile equipment lines will be featured at the show.
There will also be demonstrations of wheat harvesting, straw baling, plowing and tillage. A corn sheller and thrashing machine will also be working.
One lucky visitor will win a Ford 9600 tractor. Second prize in the raffle will be $200, third prize $100.