By Sue Moore
Some twenty antique tractors pulled up to the front door of Apple Knockers Ice Cream parlor for a cool treat on a warm day in August. The caravan was on its way from Sand Lake, Michigan to La Porte, Indiana. When it reached Vicksburg, the convoy was greeted by five other vintage tractors driven by local residents in a show of camaraderie.
This caravan travels at about ten miles an hour, burns precious little gas at that rate, and drives down back roads whenever possible. Its leader and event organizer Don Snow is from Sand Lake and was proudly traveling with his son and father in the entourage. Others driving the vintage Allis Chalmers tractors were from Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and even Ontario, Canada.
It’s called the Gathering of the Orange in honor of a specific type of tractor featured in the parade. The group was headed to a national collection show in La Porte, but a good deal of the three day trip was spent stopping along the way to enjoy the local fare. Then they ride some more, and stop to eat again, according to Don Snow.
Their caravan does tie up traffic somewhat along the way, admits press person Nan Jones. “We’ve done this every year since 1999. We even took a trip to the West Allis, Wisconsin factory where the tractors were made. They let us drive right through the factory on a trip to a show in Illinois.”
Snow complimented the village police crew who led them in from Sprinkle Road to the village center. Plus, he appreciated the reception from the local antique tractor collectors who don’t drive Allis Chalmers machines but still love to display their equipment at the Harvest Festival, the Old Car Festival and other area events. That group is headed by the Dale Sult, along with his brothers Bernie and Arlen. Wherever the Gathering of the Orange goes, it draws fans who agree with Snow, “It’s a lot of fun to get out and see the country at ten miles an hour.”