MORAVIA — Tractors that were once strictly functional pieces of farm equipment were showcased as objects of wonder Sunday in the third annual Long Hill Tractor Show, sponsored by the Long Hill Fire Department.
The show, held at the Owasco Airfield, gave tractor enthusiasts a chance to see some legendary tractors and to show off their tractor-handling skills in a series of tractor games.
These festivities and the celebration of old tractors was not always the custom, said Ron Stevens, of Venice Center, a volunteer firefighter with Long Hill Fire Department and a coordinator of the show.
“A few years ago, old tractors were just discarded and now there are some guys who said, ‘we should bring back some history,’” he said. “It’s gotten to be like antique cars.”
Participants could enter as many tractors as they wanted and there was no registration fee for the show. Profits made on concessions, which consisted of hearty slow cooker dishes and baked goods, went to the Long Hill Fire Department to support its operations.
Each participant could sign up to compete in one or more games, including a slow race, in which the slowest tractor, without the use of its brakes or clutch, won first place.
Many of the games were not so much associated with power as they were with skill. In the egg race, the contestant had to hold an egg with a spoon and drive over boards without dropping the egg. In the obstacle course, the tractor driver was blindfolded, while a navigator sits on the traffic with him or her and gives directions to guide the driver through the course.
The most delicate of the games was the egg crack, in which the contestant had to back their tractor up gently against an egg on a stand and just apply enough pressure with the tractor to crack the egg without breaking the yolk.
In exchange for proving their skills, the winners of the slow race and the obstacle course won trophies, as did three participants who won the hearts of the crowd in the people’s choice awards.
Stevens said many of the participants brought tractors that belonged to their fathers. The machines that were once shiny and new have become rusted and broken down over time. Stevens said some people spend thousands to fix up the old family tractor and make it gleam once more.
Such was the case with Karl Wilson, of Moravia, and his 1944 John Deere B, which belonged to Wilson’s father. Wilson resurrected the tractor this past summer.
“Dad sold it as a parts tractor to a friend of mine,” Wilson said. “I saw it in his parts tractor field. ... We worked on it all summer and here it is. It looks a lot different.”
Wilson explained that fixing up an old tractor is more than just a hobby. To many, it has a much deeper meaning.
“It’s a sentimental thing, I think,” he said. “I can remember just being on his (his father’s) lap when I was little. I feel like I put twice as much into (the tractor) as it’s worth (to fix it up), but it doesn’t matter.”
Wilson talked about the time, effort and frustration that often comes along with fixing up a tractor.
“You get a certain enjoyment out of doing it,” he said. “You might curse at it, but it’s very worth it. You get this stupid grin on your face as you’re driving it around.”
Another participant, David Stevens, of Venice Center, brought a 1950 John Deere A to the show. His grandfather bought it new. David Stevens said he has the original receipt for the tractor and that it cost about $2,350 in 1950.
“I grew up running it all my life,” he said. “I was 8 years old when I started running it.”
David Stevens said he has no sons, but six nephews, and is hoping that one of them will be interested in keeping the tractor when he decides to hand it down.
“I’m hoping to keep it in the family,” he said.
Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.