By Sue Moore
“They’ll talk your arm off,” said Dale Sult, referring to the antique tractor devotees who come to the Kalamazoo Engine Club’s display at the Vicksburg Historic Village. About 15 to 20 tractors will be parked on the grounds of the village during the Old Car Festival. Lots of interested collectors, farmers and history buffs seek the tractors out even more than the old cars.
The tractors are parked amongst the Tin Can Tourists’ travel trailers, primarily around the grassy area by the gazebo. The Tin Can folks bring their specialty outfits and generously open them to onlookers to check out the interiors. This group is organized by Ken and Lee Evensen. They typically camp in the park for two nights and love to visit with each other and the public.
“We never know how many guys will show up each year with their tractors, but we will have plenty of diversity including Olivers, John Deere, Farmall, Allis Chalmers, and even the Hit and Miss Engines out of Battle Creek,” Sult said. One of the key attractions around lunch time is the boiling pot of beans cooking. Tom Welch of Mattawan is the chef, having had the recipe passed down to him from three other old timers. He soaks the beans all night, seasons them, and puts them on to cook about 6 or 7 a.m. near the Depot Museum.
“About 11 or 11:30, the bean soup is about ready to eat,” Sult said. The only cost is a small donation to the Engine Club which is the purveyor of the bean pot.
Sult has been involved with the Club for many years and is known to favor Oliver tractors in his impressive collection. “We welcome all participants to bring their tractors, even if they aren’t members of the club. Sometimes they just enjoy the camaraderie of the event and then they become members. There are about 250 club members. They meet once a month at Theo & Stacy’s and come from all over this area. They have been showing their tractors for many years at the Gilmore Car Museum as well as the Old Car Festival.”