MATTOON — To the surprise of Don Madlem, one of the hits of the Coles County Farm Bureau Farm Show antique tractor display was a Maytag clothes washer from the 1930s.
“People are fascinated by it,” he said. “I have about three grandkids who spent hours washing five rags when I got the motor in it.”
Madlem, an avid antique farm equipment collector from Charleston, brought 10 items to the 2013 show at the Cross County Mall in Mattoon, but he has about 30 tractors left at home.
“People appreciate antiques because they can reminisce,” he said. “People talk about equipment their dads used to farm with. Sometimes I’d just like to be a fly on wall and listen to what people say.”
Eighty-one-year-old Kenny Albert showed off his restored 1930s broom corn thresher that was rebuilt in 2011.
The Hildalgo resident bought the mostly wooden device in the early 1950s with a buddy, but they only used it on the job for a few years before ditching the antique for newer equipment. Albert also had a 1966 Oliver Tractor he restored as well.
The farm show lasted throughout the weekend with free popcorn giveaways, agriculture-related business booths, children’s activities, live entertainment and wool spinners along with the quilt and antique equipment shows.
Two-year-old Jacob Philpott sat proudly behind the large green wheel of his great uncle Roger Ames’ 1953 John Deere 70.
Ames, of Mattoon, says he attends the farm show every year to help advertise his crop insurance business and to show his antique tractor projects.
“It’s fun to get out, and family like this guy stop by to say hello,” he said while holding sleepy Jacob.
Ames says he has two other antique tractors at home that he’s rebuilt, but during the drop-off hours Thursday the weather kept him from bringing all three pieces
“It’s a stress relief,” he said about rebuilding antiques. “It’s something you can do on your own time without a deadline.”
He echoed Madlem’s 2-cents-worth about why rural communities appreciate antique farm tools.
“We grew up with a lot of it. It’s just neat to go back and rebuild something like that.”
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