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Tractor association hosts summer show of antique farming equipment

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ABINGDON, Va. — The rumble of old machinery may not be the only sound filling the air at Fairview Homestead, when the Old Glade Antique Tractor Association hosts its annual summer show at the living history farm.

The 14th annual show set for June 17, 18 and 19 on Hillman Highway in Abingdon will be highlighted by the display of the Auction Clydesdales horses owned by Bart Long and Associates Realty and Auction. The horses will be on view throughout the day on Saturday.

The three-day show begins each day at 8 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

“The horses are amazing,” said Long. “I am fascinated with driving horses. Our country was built with driving horses, whether in rural farming areas or pulling wagons in downtown Chicago. They were the semitrucks of their day.”

Long said his realty and auction company uses the horses as ambassadors for the business, often showcasing the majestic horses at fairs, parades and other events.

The bay-colored horses are 19 hands tall and weigh approximately 2,200 pounds each.

The horses and equipment are moved in a custom 53-feet Featherlight semitrailer built to haul the horses, harness and wagon.

Long’s display also will include a classic yellow hitch wagon built in 1908 by the Studebaker Brothers Co. in Chicago. The wagon was restored by Lawrence Wagon Works in 2010.

According to Long, the wagon is one of only a few such wagons left in the country today.

Demonstrations of farm equipment

After having to cancel last year’s summer show due to the pandemic, Ron Stevenson, president of the nonprofit organization, said this year’s event is turning out to be one for the books.

In addition to the Auction Clydesdales attraction, Blue Ridge PBS will be on hand to film demonstrations of antique farm equipment at Fairview Homestead, including a sawmill, threshing machine and blacksmith shop. According to Tenille Montgomery, community relations specialist for the Town of Abingdon, the broadcasting company has received monies from the Virginia Tobacco Commission to cover feature stories on Southwest Virginia.

The cabin at Fairview also will be on display for public viewing all three days. Farm equipment demonstrations will take place throughout the weekend.

Brad Nelms of BSN Rodeo Co. will also bring a bull, horses and ponies for exhibition.

Stevenson anticipates the summer show will attract visitors from Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, many of whom will bring antique tractors to display at the event.

He believes as many as 160 antique tractors will be part of the show.

Stevenson said there is no fee for anyone who wants to bring an antique tractor, small engine, car or truck to the show. “That includes even an antique lawn mower. Around here, we call it anything that you can push, pull or drag.”

Each day during the show, there will be a “parade of power” where owners of the machinery will ride around the Fairview grounds on their antique tractors.

Members of the tractor association will set up as vendors, selling antiques and tractor parts.

Susie Q’s Dream Kitchen from Church Hill, Tennessee, will sell food during each day of the event.

Largest fundraiser

According to Stevenson, the summer show is the tractor association’s largest fundraising event each year.

“We took a big hit in fundraising last year because of COVID-19. The summer show last year was canceled, and we were not able to ask for financial support because a lot of businesses were struggling, too,” he said.

Donations garnered from this year’s event will be used for continuing projects at Fairview.

The tractor association currently is raising money to build a period-correct general store that will represent the 1850s era.

“We want to use the store to display antiques that have been donated to us. It also will be a focal point for any events we host at Fairview,” he said.

Stevenson estimated the project will cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

Showcase's history

Stevenson said their summer show focuses on the history of the region and what life was like in the late 1800s.

“A threshing machine was usually owned by one person in the community who traveled from farm to farm threshing wheat. It takes about six people to run the machine, which required farmers working together,” said Stevenson.

“The farmers then took the wheat to a local water mill on the river, where it was ground into flour for winter’s use.”

Stevenson said because of distances between farms, most farmers had their own blacksmith shops and learned to do their own repairs.

Many local communities had a sawmill, similar to the one that was donated to the tractor association in 2014 from the Briscoe family of Abingdon.

According to Stevenson, much of the lumber donated to the nonprofit organization is cut with the old A.B. Farquhar circular sawmill and used for projects at the living history museum.

The log cabin at Fairview was built in 1812 by the Hagy family, who came from Germany to settle in Pennsylvania, later traveling on horse wagon trails to Southwest Virginia. After settling in Abingdon, they formed Hagy Wagon Co., which was located in downtown Abingdon. The family lived on the Fairview property, raising 12 children in the log home.

For show information, contact Ron Stevenson at 276-356-5397 or Johnny Perdue at 276-492-1142.

Fairview Homestead is located at 908 Hillman Highway in Abingdon. Follow Old Glade Antique Tractor Association on Facebook.

Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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