Geneseo's Working Farm Show is a step back in time

Claudia Loucks
For the Republic
Chad Jacobs, left, president of the Antique Engine & Tractor Association (AE&TA); and Phil Jordan, board member, are shown with the John Deere tractors that will be on display at this year’s Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s annual show, Sept. 16-18. Photo by Claudia Loucks

The annual Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s three-day Working Farm Show takes visitors back to what life on the farm was like in an earlier time.

This 61st annual show is Friday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 18, at the show grounds, north of Geneseo on Illinois 92, three miles east of Interstate 88, or one half mile west of Illinois Rt. 92.

More: See the full schedule hereWork Farm Show 2022 schedule

The Working Farm Show is a popular attraction for residents and visitors of all ages, and is a family event with lots of activities for children, including train rides around the show grounds. Admission to the show is $5 per day or $10 for the entire weekend. Children 12 and younger are admitted free.

A special feature this year will be demonstrations by Rich Trahan, retired blacksmith from the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour.

Other features include AE&TA members harvesting corn and beans with mid-1900’s equipment, showing the use of horses for working a field, threshing oats or wheat, running a saw mill, plowing, baling, and demonstrating gas engines as they were used in the early 1900’s.

The annual show gets bigger each year with over 400 tractors, over 100 garden tractors and hundreds of gas engines, plus other agricultural memorabilia on the grounds.

The Vendor Fair at the Show will feature a variety of crafts, rug weaving, broom making, and other demonstrations.

The entire show is handicap accessible. Pets are not allowed, with an exception for service dogs.

In 2010, the AE&TA moved to its current location after 48 years in different locations. The 40 acres of land was donated to the Association by Bill and June Cole of Hillsdale. AE&TA purchased an additional 10 acres to connect the grounds to Illinois 92, which allowed for a driveway from the highway to the show grounds.

They also rent additional acreage from Orville and Maxine McCord.

Handicap transportation is available and the “people mover” also is a convenient means to transport people around the show grounds.

The AE&TA grounds showcase the timber frame barn that appears to have been built decades ago. The building was constructed using age-old techniques. Trillium Dell Timberworks, along with help from the Timber Framers Guild, assembled and raised the large building.

About 95 per cent of the barn was constructed with timber from Illinois forests. Even though the AE&TA barn was built with new lumber, it appears to have been part of the Henry County countryside for years.

A food building also was added to provide seating for visitors to the show.

The Jordan Mercantile Building was donated to the club in 2013 from Phil and Karen Jordan.

A train building was constructed in 2015, with labor and materials donated by the late Larry Colo, Geneseo, and Bill Cole, Hillsdale

A special addition is the completion of the enclosed walkway connecting the timber frame barn to the new Feature Building.

Phil Jordan, past president of AE&TA said,”The enclosed walkway includes handicap restrooms, and connects the Feature Building to the timber frame barn.”

AE&TA members share a belief in preserving the historic value of antique, power-driven farm equipment, from early horse-drawn plows to gasoline and steam tractors to equipment from the 1900’s to the 1960’s.

The group also believes in keeping the machines running by putting them to work and that makes the group’s show unique as they use the equipment on display in demonstrations.

Each year the show features a different brand of antique engine and/or tractor, and the John Deere is showcased this year. For more general information, contact Phil Jordan, 309-314-5000, or Chad Jacobs, 309-314-0783.

John Deere being showcased this year

Each year the Antique Engine & Tractor Association features a different brand of antique engine and/or tractor and this year the group is showcasing John Deere.

Prior to his death, Larry Gay, a member of the Antique Engine & Tractor Association for many years, and who had written books on the history of farm tractors, shared some of his findings about the tractors and equipment….The content was compiled by past and present AE&TA members.

John Deere, a blacksmith in Grand Detour, IL, made a name for himself by building a plow with a steel moldboard made from a discarded reciprocating saw-mill blade. His blacksmith shop soon became a small factory, and he moved his operation to Moline in 1848. The product was expanded with the Gilpin sulky plow and Deere & Mansur corn planters. In 1910, the company started to consolidate operations by purchasing the sales branches and several other companies.

When Deere & Co. started experimenting with tractors, Joe Dain developed a 3-wheel tractor. In December 1917 the company decided to build 100 of them. In March of 1918, Deere & Co. purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company which had been producing Waterloo Boy since 1914.

In 1923, John Deere D was introduced and was built until 1953. The model C was the first-row crop tractor introduced in 1927 and was later replaced by the GP. The next generation of tractors introduced by Deere & Co. was the A in 1934, B in 1935, and the G in 1938. The model L was added in 1938 for the smaller farmer. It was followed by the heavier model LA in 1941. The smaller model H was added in 1939. The M tractor started in 1947 and replaced the L, LA, and tractors. The R was the first diesel John Deere tractor introduced in 1949.

The year 1952 brought the introduction of the 50, and the 60 tractors to replace the A, and the B. The 70 replaced the G in 1953. The 40 replaced the M in 1953 and the 80 replaced the R in mid-1955. The mid 50’s brought a new look and a new line to the Deere tractor lineup - the 20 series (320 – 820) in 1957-1958; and the 30 series (330-830) in 1959-1960. These were the last of the two-cylinder tractors.

In 1960, John Deere introduced the 1010, 2010, 30210 and the 4010. With 4- and 6-cylinder engines came more horsepower. The 5010 was new for 1963. Also, in 1963 came the introduction of the 3020 and the 4020. The year 1966 brought the 1020, 2020, 2520 and the 5020. In 1969, the 1520, 2530, 4000, 44520 along with new 4-wheel drive tractors WA-14 and WA-17 built by FWD Wagner.

The next evolution was the introduction of the 4030, 4230, 4430 and 4630 Generation II row-crop models. Sound Guard cabs came in 1972, and the improvements continued to follow in the John Deere line of tractors. Today, John Deere remains a leader in the manufacturing and development of agricultural tractors and equipment worldwide.