History repeats itself at Penfield farm show this week

PENFIELD — Back in the days when farm equipment was really horse-powered, many of the seats that held the workers were made of cast iron.

A group of collectors that includes a worldwide membership will hold its national show at this week’s annual Historic Farm Days show in Penfield, sponsored by the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.

One of the most avid collectors, Tom Wilson of Blue Grass, Iowa, has more than 600 of the cast iron seats in his collection. The 44-year-old Wilson is president of the 300-member Cast Iron Seat Collectors Association — an organization with membership in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“This year we’re going to be putting up a display of the seats manufactured in the state of Illinois,” Wilson said. “This is the first time our group has made this big of an effort collectively.

Wilson said just short of 200 different  models of cast iron seats were manufactured in Illinois. The association will display about 150 of them, owned by association members from 10 states. From Deere & Co alone, there are eight different models of cast iron seats.

All but one, which will be off a tractor, will be from horse-drawn farm equipment, dating from the 1860-1900 era.

“About 1900 is when tractors started coming in,” Wilson said. “By 1910, tractors were pretty widely produced in the world. There were several bigger companies.”

Wilson said to give people an idea how old the seats are, he tries to put into perspective what things were going on in the world at the time the seats were manufactured. 1860, for example, was a year before the start of the Civil War.

A collector since the early ‘90s, Wilson got into collecting because of his father. But the elder Wilson got out of collecting cast iron seats because the prices began to climb, and he got into collecting other farm items. That didn’t deter Tom Wilson, who remains an avid collector of the seats.

Wilson doesn’t know if he has a favorite cast iron seat.

“So many of these I bought have a story behind them from the trip to buy them or who I bought them from,” Wilson said. “Some are a lot more rare than others.

“Probably the ones that I appreciate most are those that have come from friends of mine. I’m one of the youngest guys who will be there. A lot of (the members) are old enough to be my dad. To have guys at that age willing to work with me is a pretty big honor. I respect the age. So if I can ever get a seat out of the collection from a guy who has been collecting longer than I have,” it’s pretty special.

Wilson expects about 50 association members to be on hand.

The Penfield show is an attractive one for the group due to the community’s location.

“For us, it’s geographically a huge bonus,” Wilson said. “You’re pretty much right in the middle of the country, in the middle of the I states. The sweet spot of our membership is somewhere southwest of Chicago. The show’s a real nice show, and for us to be allowed to show in that feature building” is attractive.

Proving that there’s nothing too out of the ordinary to collect, the Corn Item Club will also have a display. As the name says, the group collects anything corn-related, whether it be cast-iron signs or kitchen ware that looks like corn.

The group is at Historic Farm Days every year. This year, however, it will be located in a tent next to the Cast Iron seat collectors, according to Wilson.

I&I President Chuck Stelter said the featured farm equipment line will be Allis Chalmers and Advanced Rumely, an early farm line that was later bought out by AC.

The I&I club raffle will feature a chance to win an Allis Chalmers 7040 tractor. Tickets will be available near the windmill until the drawing at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“There will be some Rumley tractors there, and some of them are probably close to 100 years old,” John Fredrickson, former club president, said.

This will mark the first year for the show without Darius Harms, an active member of the I&I club who died last year.

Fredrickson said Mr. Harms attended every day of the show last year. He died a few days after the show.

The show runs Thursday-Sunday on the I&I grounds in Penfield.


Historic Farm Days

Entertainment and activities


Mini rods/antique classes-6 p.m.

Tractor pull

Kids day north of log cabin

Obstacle course and putt putt golf, noon-7 p.m.

Tractor games, grandstand, 10 a.m.

Bingo, school cafeteria, 2-4 p.m.

Marvin Lee Country Music Show, pavilion, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Twilight tractor drive, starts at grandstand, 7 p.m.

Tractor games, grandstand, 10 a.m.

Children’s obstacle course and putt putt golf, north of log cabin, noon-7 p.m.

Wes Wheeler’s Battle Creek Band, pavilion, 3-6 p.m.

Sanctioned tractor pull, grandstand, 6 p.m.

Steam Engine Spark Show at dusk and fireworks after dark.

Marvin Lee gospel music, old Penfield church, 9:30-11 a.m.

7 a.m. daily, gates open

9 a.m. daily, flag raising and national anthem

9:30 a.m.-noon daily, corn crib filling and shelling, threshing and baling, potato digging, wheat harvest

9:30, 12:30 and 3 p.m. daily, Chicago engine demo

1 p.m. daily, tractor parade

2:30-4 p.m. daily, corn crib shelling, threshing, baling, wheat harvest

Tractor pull, grandstand, Friday and Saturday after the parade

Sawmill, daily, except during lunch hour

Blacksmith shop demonstrations daily

Log cabin, open daily. Visit Abe Lincoln on Friday and Saturday.

Household display and museum, open daily. Exhibits of yesteryear featuring sewing items and children’s game display.

Old Penfield church, open 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Club hall, I&I Club,vendors

Trading post daily, collectibles to buy and sell.

I&I Club raffle — tickets for Allis Chalmers 7040 tractor available near the windmill until the drawing at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Many food stands will be open throughout the show.


Categories (3):News, Agriculture, Living


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