Looking Back: Antique Tractors and the Good Ol’ Days

Plowfest, an old-fashioned field plowing event, focuses on antique tractors and the game of ‘Do You Remember When.’

| March/April 2014

  • The Plowfest started about 10 years ago when the Baergs, a father and son duo, thought it would be interesting to take one of the old antique tractors and see how it would do on a field adjacent to his farmstead.
    Illustration by Wayne Stroot
  • An illustration of Plowfest near Delft in southwestern Minnesota.
    Illustration by Wayne Stroot

“Do you remember when … .” People just love that game, don’t they? You know the one — when folks reminisce about things like the clicks that party liners used to hear as they listened to others’ telephone conversations on rural lines, taking trips in cars without air conditioning, or walking to school three miles in five feet of snow. We’re fascinated with those stories of the “good ol’ days.”

Once a year, similar memories come alive as Allen Baerg and his son Arlyn host a day of old-fashioned field plowing. The 2012 Plowfest took place on Labor Day, September 3, at one of Allen’s wheat fields near Delft in southwestern Minnesota.

The dull, tan stubble of the field came alive with green John Deere, red IH, yellow Minneapolis Moline, orange Allis Chalmers, dark green Olivers, gray Ford, and Black Hawk tractors and plows as the Baergs, their friends, neighbors, and even strangers converged on the field for a day to watch and remember how farmers used to turn the soil. Nothing larger than a three-bottom plow was permitted. As if in a country line dance, tractor drivers put-putted nose-to-furrow-wheel down the expanse of a field Baerg had left unplowed just for the occasion.

Looking out on the field, one witnessed a diversity of history — John Deere models A, B, D and Gs worked side-by-side with Farmall Hs and Ms, as well as Minneapolis Moline Rs and Zs.

Appreciative folks, who remember the days during which these tractors and plows were used, looked on. And, there were those of us — the children and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren — who are blessed with the opportunity to discover realities of days gone by. We learned from the stories told during Plowfest, and by watching the carefully preserved relics parading down a field as if taking a victory lap.

It all started about 10 years ago. The Baergs, father and son, had been avid antique tractor collectors for years. One fall, Allen thought it would be interesting to take one of the old plows and see how it would do on a field adjacent to his farmstead. So, on that first pass, Allen and friend Arnie Quiring turned soil in the “old way.” Allen’s son Arlyn joined them later that afternoon. Surprisingly, the old plow dug in as if time had nothing on it; the soil was turned, and deeper than expected. More importantly, though, it was fun.

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