P.O. Box 6, Wilmington, Vermont 05363
The first time I attended the annual Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Show at the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center at White Springs, Florida, I was amazed at the display of working equipment and machinery, such as a corn husker, sheller, threshing machine, baler, and grist mills, and the display of antique tractors, gas and steam engines. (See 'Way Down Upon the Swanee River, There Is a Great Engine Show,' in May 1996 GEM, pages 20-21).
Invariably, when the question was asked to whom a piece of equipment belonged, the answer was, 'The Erixtons.' Last year, while attending the show, I was determined to meet the 'Erixtons.'
The family consists of Lee 'Dad' Erixton, Belva 'Mom' Erixton, and four sons, Bill, Mike, Gary, and Terry, who with their spouses and children form the Erixton family.
Most of the family resides in White Springs, Florida. The brothers arrange leave time from their regular employment to man the equipment at the annual show at the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center. Gary is employed as a ranger at the Center.
It all began with 'Dad' and 'Mom' Erixton. The collection started when Dad, a retired farmer, attended a neighbor's auction about 15 years ago, and purchased a 10-20 McCormick-Deering tractor. With a grin that extended from ear to ear, Dad said, 'Made a mistake, the most foolish thing I ever did.'
The collection now contains 'about' 50 tractors, and 25 engines, a 10 HP gas engine being the largest in the engine collection.
The collection is in keeping with the times. It is 'non-discriminatory' and 'equal opportunity.' No one particular make is featured. Just the rare and unusual, such as a John Deere 'A' high crop, a Farmall 'M' with a single front wheel, and a regular Farmall on steel with a wide front end. The collection contains several English and German-made tractors, in addition to most American makes. Tractors have come from many states, including Kansas and Maine, and from England.
The Erixton family, as assembled on April 5, 1998. From left to right: Kathy, husband Terry Erixton, with children Kelly & Josh; Mike Erixton; Bill Erixton, with wife Margaret and son, Travis; Lee Erixton and wife Belva, 'Dad & Mom'; Gary Erixton, son Jordon (right), with friend Tommy Culpepper, posed at the Erixton farm in front of the family Red River Special separator.
Photo courtesy of Bill & Lee Erixton, taken at the Erixton family farm.
The collection changes as other rare tractors become available. The sheds at the home place contain several tractors in various stages of restoration.
Farming is now limited to raising the corn and oats used in the demonstrations. The antique equipment is used to grow the crops.
The family exhibits at five or six shows a year. With all of that activity, and all of those tractors and engines to keep in running condition, who would have time to farm?