Three generations of Nicholson men came to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday to see the Spring Tractor and Engine Show.
Brian Nicholson held his son Peter, 4, as they toured the three-acre expo hall with Grandpa Lynn Nicholson, looking for tractors like grandpa’s that Peter rides on the family’s southwest Allen County farm.
But most of the tractors at Sunday’s show were smaller and shinier than Grandpa Lynn’s.
They were restored relics from an era when farms were plentiful and small instead of few and large, said Rick Walker of Woodburn.
Walker is president of the Maumee Valley Antique Steam and Gas Association in New Haven, and this weekend, his collectors club hosted a tractor show similar to an antique car show for tractor enthusiasts.
Most collectors of antique tractors tend to be farmers or ex-farmers, Walker said, and the show gave them a chance to take a step back in time through the history of farms and the tractors that tended them.
As Walker strolled through the lines of tractors Sunday afternoon, some sat below his shoulders and others were about twice his height. He said small tractors used to satisfy family farmers who tended less than 100 acres of land. But now, small farms are few, and smaller tractors can’t handle the demand of farmers taking on more crops and land.
“It shows the difference in farming over the years,” Walker said. “Everything’s gotten bigger.”
Although some tractors were for sale, most of this weekend’s show was for collectors to swap stories, show off their special projects and find rare parts to complete other projects back home.
About 15 brands of antique tractors were on display, including big names such as John Deere, International and Allis-Chalmers. But over the years, the brands have consolidated to make room for new companies like AGCO, Walker said.
To be considered antique, the tractors had to be manufactured in 1976 or earlier, and some on display dated back to the 1800s, when farm equipment was pulled by horses, Walker said.
While many tractors around town will soon be grooming lawns, Walker said most of the tractors featured at this weekend’s show won’t be out mowing or planting crops.
“The ones who are really collectors won’t get them dirty,” Walker said.
But just because these tractors won’t have their “working clothes” on, Walker said, doesn’t mean they won’t get a little mud on the tires.
Randy Goyings and Dave Stouffer, both of Paulding, Ohio, worked on three tractors and one truck that were shown in the tractor show, and Stouffer said he’s won several pulling contests with his tractors, hauling dirt more than 300 feet.
Both men grew up on farms and have been members of the Maumee Valley Antique Steam and Gas Association for more than 15 years. Now they travel the country for tractor shows and contests.
“If you grew up on a farm, it’s in your blood,” Walker said.