By Barry Dyck
For those of us who grew up on farms and drove tractors that were manufactured before about 1970, last weekend had a lot of nostalgia to offer. A Tractor Trek on June 10 and Tractor Show on June 11 kept vintage tractor enthusiasts quite occupied.
The Tractor Trek is an annual fundraising event sponsored jointly by Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) and Eden Foundation. This was the eighth consecutive trek where vintage-tractor owners and enthusiasts canvassed friends and acquaintances for pledges and then drove their tractors more than 50 kilometers to earn those pledges. Forty-seven tractors were registered, and their pledges totaled just under $37,000 at the end of the day.
This year the route took the group east to Aime Boivin’s place to see his network of miniature railroads and then on to the Dawson Trail Park in Richer. Many local residents were ready to serve us lunch at the park and cast a ballot for their favourite tractor. We enjoyed their warm reception. On the way back to MHV we stopped for coffee and Schnetje at Penner Pumpkins in the Giroux area.
Dinner and an awards ceremony were held in the new MHV Pavilion. Awards were given in three classes: Antique (1950 and older), Classic (1951-1954), and Working Class (1955-1967). Within each of these classes there were four award categories: Judge’s Choice, Smoothest Running, Quietest Running, and Best Opportunity for Improvement.
Additionally there were awards for the oldest driver – Peter W. Wiebe; oldest tractor – a 1940 Cockshutt 70 owned and driven by Bob Schmor; lowest horsepower – 1953 IHC Farmall Super C owned by Linden Reimer and driven by Chris Chetwynd; longest family-owned – 1954 Case DC4 owned by Werner Rempel and driven by Lorne Derkatch. The organizing committee was pleased and encouraged by the number of tractors involved, as well as the funds raised.
Some of these vintage tractors were parked at MHV for the night and then placed on display on MHV’s Main Street on Sunday for the Southeast Implement Collectors’ Tractor Show. This proved to be a fine photo opportunity for numerous photographers.
Sunday’s audience enjoyed a parade of the tractors, complete with information about each tractor and its owner. The parade was followed by a demonstration of starting one tractor by turning its pulley with another tractor. Perhaps the most challenging part of this demonstration was getting the two tractors aligned so that the belt transferring the power wouldn’t jump off the pulleys.
One of the tractor games following this demonstration was the Chain Drop, where a long chain was hooked to the back of a tractor, and the operator had to move the tractor back and forth as quickly as possible, depositing every link of that chain into a two-foot-square box. A second game involved backing a four-wheeled trailer into a designated spot between four pylons. The degree of difficulty in this game can only be truly appreciated by those of us who have ever tried to back a four-wheeled trailer. The last game involved driving a tractor onto beams on a fulcrum and positioning the tractor in a place where it balances. In other words, the beams cannot be touching the ground at either end.
Each event was timed to see who completed it in the shortest time. Drivers and spectators alike enjoyed these competitions.
Amid the games, judging, driving and fundraising, there were many stories shared over those two days. These stories remind us of various elements of our heritage and in so doing, help create community among people with common interests. It is our hope that these events will be even bigger and better next year.
Calendar of Events
June 16-18: Cultural Booth and Waffles at Summer in the City
June 18: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Father’s Day Lunch Buffet
July 1: Storied Places exhibit opens in the Gerhard Ens Gallery
July 1: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM - Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebrations
July 10-14: Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-7