Farming Heritage

Two antique tractor shows in area highlight tools of yesteryear

The shows are set for May
in Madison, Ind., Carrollton, Ky.

CARROLLTON, Ky. (May 2018) – Fans of antique tractors and lawn equipment will have two events during May to view some of the finest local collectible farm equipment in the Kentuckiana area.
The 16th annual Pioneer Power Tractor and Antique Tractor Club Show will be held on May 4-5 at Point Park at 100 Main St. in Carrollton, Ky. A short time later, the 12th annual Kent, Ind., Vintage Lawn & Garden Show is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19, in the parking lot of the Tractor Supply store in Madison.
Long-time collector Bobby Gibson of Carrollton is part of the Pioneer Power tractor show. He has a collection of farm tractors but also a few wild garden tractors that he has turned into rat rods that imitate and exaggerate the street hot rods of the 1940s and ’50s.

Photo provided

Longtime Carrollton, Ky., tractor collector Bobby Gibson enjoys showing off his wild garden tractors at area shows.

“I’ve always loved tractors since I was kid,” said Gibson. “I finally got time enough to play with them after 20 years.”
His first love is tractors called Minneapolis Moline.
“The main reason I like them is you don’t see them much around here,” Gibson added. “They are in use out west and up north. People around here have other types. I like all tractors.”
Gibson doesn’t care if a tractor is a working field tractor or a fancy model reconditioned for shows.
“Some tractors we use, some we don’t. Some aren’t worth using,” he said. “Some are so special we don’t want to tear them up in the field. Some are really worn out. We just got them patched and don’t want to put them under a hard day’s strain.”
Perhaps the wildest item in the Gibson collection is a lawn tractor fitted in the style of the 1940s-era rat rod street hot rods.
“A rat rod that I saw at the street rod nationals intrigued me,” Gibson said. “I started work on an old Massey Ferguson with a V-twin and an old club cadet. It has duel exhaust and sounds like a Harley. It is painted flat black like the old hot rods.”
The project grew and grew.
“True to rat rods, I used whatever parts I could find or would fit where I needed them,” said Gibson. “The engine is from a mid-1990s Cub Cadet. The rear rims and tires are from a Great Dane Zero Turn. And the front rims are from a Craftsman rear engine rider. The gas tank is from a mid 1960s Cub Cadet. It has Hydro-Stat linkage re-built with brake parts from a 1980s Snapper rider, and the front emblem is from a 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor.”
Gibson found parts from everywhere for the project.
“It has everything but the kitchen sink. Well almost,” he said laughing. “The chrome exhaust tips are sink drain tail pipes.”
Gibson’s love of tractors is not without purpose.
“I hope people of the younger generation have an opportunity to see what it was like in the last 75 years for these machines that did all the farm work,” he said. “The new tractors are mainly bigger, with a lot more power and easier to operate. They even have GPS guidance systems. Other than having four wheels, they don’t resemble the tractors from when we grew up.”
Gibson said he is thankful there are still garden and lawn tractors and 10-acre tractors around today.
Pioneer Power Tractor Antique Tractor Club show lasts all day on that Friday and Saturday. The show is sponsored by Mark Smith-State Farm Insurance.
“Our theme is living safely,” said the club’s founding member Calvin Miles of Carrollton. “We have a long list of safety demonstrations.”
Demonstrations include a visit by the Stat Flight air ambulance, Carroll County EMS, a water safety demonstration by Carroll County Fish and Wildlife, tractor safety demonstrations by the Carroll County Conservation District, plus water and tractor safety demonstrations.
LG&E and Kentucky Utilities will offer safety demonstrations on electricity. The Carroll County Fire Department will also offer fire safety tips.
“Sheila Banks at the conservation office put the safety stuff together,” said Miles. “Anyone who goes through all the safety booths will be entered in a drawing to win a stainless steel grill.”
The event also features a kid’s pedal pull in four weight classes, as well as craft and food vendors and working demonstrations.
“People can come early for the Rotary Club pancake breakfast,” Miles said.
“That is always excellent.”
The club is ready to receive tractors on Thursday evening, and security will be provided all three nights. Miles said he expects between 100 and 120 tractors.
“It could be more,” said Miles. “It depends on the weather.”
The club formed in November 16 years ago, and members did their first show the following May.
“Our feature tractor this year is Allis Chalmers,” said Miles. “But all brands are welcome. They don’t have to be pretty. They can come straight out of the field. They don’t have to be painted. They can be rusty. We don’t care.”
The event will have music in the background, and the Milton Volunteer Fire Department will have a fish fry and burgers available.
Two weeks after the Pioneer show, the Vintage Lawn & Garden comes to Madison’s Tractor Supply store at 405 E. Clifty Dr.
“We started as a lawn and garden club in 2008,” said event organizer Jeff Shepherd. “Then we kept getting more people with big tractors. Now we have 44 members, and it is split about 50-50 between garden and farm tractor people.”
Shepherd acquired his love of tractors at an early age.
“My dad and I started tinkering with antique tractors when I got out of high school in the early ’80s,” he said. “He was a hired hand for a man in Hanover who had tractors. After he finished working, they remained friends, and he got some of his old tractors.”
Shepherd and his father started restoring old tractors and finally bought one of their own and started going to shows.
“I have my grandfather’s 1948 Allis Chalmers tractor,” Shepherd said.  “I feel I am preserving history.”
The Vintage Lawn & Garden show will feature both garden and farm tractors.
“A lot of the time, a garden tractor is the first motorized vehicle kids get to drive,” Shepherd added.
“The club started in 2008 as garden club because I was seeing there wasn’t anything around here,” said Shepherd. “The club is moving more toward the bigger tractors because it has become a big thing in the last few years.”

• For information about the Kent Vintage Lawn & Garden Show, call Jeff Shepherd at (812) 866-5883. For more information about the Pioneer Power Tractor & Antique Tractor Club show, call Danny Perkins at (502) 525-3346 or for vendor information, call Debbie Miles at (502) 558-8684.

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