MID-MICHIGAN

Old Gas Tractor Association


| August/September 1996



John Deere

Overview of the John Deere display area and show tent at Mid-Minchigan Old Gas Tractor Show in Oakley, Michigan.

Gerry Scells

Sec. Bill Koski, Pres. P.O. Box 104 Oakley, Michigan 48649

The year was 1974, the setting was the fertile heartland of Michigan known as the Saginaw Valley, and the first chapter of the story was written by eight local farmers who had an affinity for the machines and methods of the early years of mechanized agriculture. The first official gathering was not much more than a threshing bee on the farm of one of the founding members with casual passersby stopping in to visit and reminisce. A good meal was shared, and at the end of the day of hard work and fun the men involved realized that not only had they enjoyed themselves, but their efforts were also appreciated by those neighbors and friends who had noticed the nostalgic scene from the road and joined in the fun themselves. These eight men, who all had roots in the era of the binder and threshing machine, were well aware that this scene was rapidly disappearing from the American landscape, and that generations to come would never know the excitement they had known as youngsters when the crew moved from farm to farm to harvest the season's bounty. The children of the future would never feel the thrill of seeing that gigantic Huber tractor pulling the separator up their own driveway when it was their turn to thresh. They would miss the sweet smell of the grain as they pitched bundles into the churning maw of the Belle City thresher, oblivious to the tired muscles, the hot sun and the chaff sticking to the sweat on their forearms. All this passed through the minds of these gentlemen as they reflected back on their day's work, and then the idea was born! Why not make this an annual affair so that succeeding generations could relive the memories just as they had done that day?

And so it was agreed, next year in August, they would once again drag out the old retired tractors and machinery and put on a show, not just for themselves but for the public as well. With that agreement history was made; the birth of the Mid-Michigan Old Gas Tractor Show had taken place. They formed a club under that name and began planning for the next year.

Now that they had a goal, the various members set about gathering up long-since discarded equipment and tools to expand their operation. Auction sales were attended and fence rows and junk-yards were scoured for their hidden treasures. They began to realize how much fun it was to find and restore the rusting hunks of iron that had once been some farmer's pride and joy. Most would seek out the particular brands that they had been associated with in their youth, or perhaps one that someone else had that was the object of their envy years ago. Their efforts proved to be contagious as many others in the community found themselves inspired to roll that old John Deere out from behind the corncrib and see if they couldn't get that flywheel to budge once again, with a little oil and a lot of patience. The fever had started to spread!

The rest, as they say, is history. When August rolled around and the time was right, they gathered again, and the public reaction proved their theory to be correct. There was a great appetite for the spectacle they had presented. Many others who had quietly harbored a love for the old tractors and machines they left behind when they left the farm or advanced with the progress that has taken place, joined the fledgling organization and added their time and talents to the enterprise.

As the years passed by the size of the Club grew by leaps and bounds and soon they realized that they had outgrown that small field where it all started, and the board sought and acquired a 20 acre parcel to be used as their show grounds in order to accommodate the throngs of spectators and exhibitors that were now attracted each year. That 20 acres was soon expanded to 40 and even then additional land was leased for spectator parking. This was truly an event driven by demand from their target customer, the American family.