A 'Big Thursday' In Delaware

Ford Jubilee

Best of Show: 1953 Ford Jubilee.

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GEM Staffer

Okay, so it didn't really take place on a Thursday (more about that later), but it was nonetheless a big day for tractor collectors in the Millsboro, Delaware, area as they exhibited their machinery at the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce's first annual Farm Equipment Show on Saturday, August 12, 2000. The show was part of the Big Thursday festival, three days of family fun.

The show was open to all comers, tractor or engine. While there were no engines on hand in this first year, there was a nice rainbow of about 15 tractors, including a couple of 1970s vintage garden tractors, on display. All exhibitors received a dash plaque for participating, and trophies were awarded within tractor make categories.

Rodney Mears, of Georgetown, Delaware, took first place in the Case division with his 1955 DC. Albert 'Bud' Leonard, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, received the Ford trophy for his 1945 2N. Bud also took home the Allis Chalmers trophy, for his 1948 C. The John Deere trophy went to Jerry Warrington, of Laurel, Delaware, for his 1952 MC crawler, serial number MC-16506.

Farmall was the most-represented make of tractor, with several competing for the trophies. First place went to Rodney Mears for his 1955 Farmall 300; second to Randy Maull, of Milton, Delaware, for his 1953 Farmall Super H; and third and fourth place to Melvin Milligan, of Millsboro, for his 1922 Farmall Regular and his 1958 Farmall Cub, respectively.

Best of Show award went to Scott Siegfried, of Milton, Delaware, for his beautifully-presented 1953 Ford NAA Jubilee tractor. This handsome tractor stopped my mom in her tracks with a big 'ooooooh'of course, she's partial to Fords, having used one on the home farm as a young girl.

The Big Thursday celebration dates to 1852, when the State of Delaware first regulated the opening of oyster-harvesting season, which happened to open on the second Thursday in August that year. In years to come, the families of farmers and watermen held 'frolics' on riverbanks in communities throughout the region to celebrate 'Big Thursday.' Although eventually fading away in most areas, the tradition survived the longest in Oak Orchard, a tiny village just east of Millsboro. In 1972, the celebration moved into town, growing into one of the largest festivals in southern Delaware.

In addition to the farm equipment show, the festival features an auction, a local pageant, children's entertainment, a 5K run, an antique and classic car show, museum displays and demonstrations, food and craft vendors, carnival games and rides, fireworks, musical entertainment, and more. This year's festival will be held August 9-11, at the Little League complex on State Street. The Farm Equipment Show takes place on Saturday, August 11, beginning at 9:00 a.m., and will include an antique tractor pull, agricultural displays, and a watermelon-eating contest. For more information, or to register as an exhibitor, call 302-934-6777.