November 27, 2021

Plow Day brings out tractor loyalists to help charities

Friendly competition

Photos by Kevin Conlon/contributing photographer

John Phelps leads a team of horses pulling a wagon full of visitors Saturday at the annual Plow Day in East Homer.

Three-year-old Cyrus Craig enjoyed sitting on the red 1957 International Model 650 diesel farm tractor among his family on Saturday morning. He may not have realized he was joining a rivalry that dates back decades.

“We told him, ‘Only sit on the red ones,’” his grandfather, Sparky Craig of Preble, said afterward.

Craig and his brother Gerry Craig of McGraw are longtime fans of International brand tractors, which are easily recognizable by their traditional red paint.

They were among those displaying their tractors and putting them to work Saturday for the annual East Homer Antique Plow Day, a fundraiser for the East Homer Methodist Church, which hosted a pancake breakfast, and the Albright Grange next door, which hosted a chicken barbecue and other activities.

Among the 13 tractors plowing the field Saturday were mostly John Deeres and Internationals, along with a few other brands.

Paul Fouts of Otisco said he was among a group that drove four vintage John Deere tractors two hours to the event.

“We come every year,” he said.

Farmers have deep brand loyalty when it comes to their tractors and a bit of a rivalry between the devotees, which some on Saturday likened to Chevrolet versus Ford in trucks and cars.

“Whatever they grew up with on the farm, they prefer,” said Carl Ritter, director of the Tractors of Yesteryear club, which organized the tractor exhibition. “I like John Deere.”

While leading a team of horses pulling a wagon full of visitors Saturday, John Phelps of East Homer slowed down to comment on the beauty of the “green paint” of John Deere tractors grouped together in the field off Route 13.

“I like John Deere the best,” Phelps said. “My dad was a Ford guy. We have a 1952 Ford he bought brand new. He thought more of that than he did of me.”

Steve Phelps, left, of East Homer directs Homer High School student Evan Morgan, 14, as they plow a field off Route 13 in East Homer with a 1967 John Deere Model 2510 tractor during the annual Plow Day event Saturday.

Phelps, the town of Homer highway superintendent, who also has a small farm with black angus beef cows and two teams of draft horses, said the event was a great day to bring together the close-knit people of East Homer.

“That’s a great community up there. I grew up there so I am partial. I wouldn’t live any other place than that valley,” said Phelps, a third-generation local farmer. “We have a wonderful seniors and people who grew up there. It’s a really nice place to be.”

The first Plow Day was organized 15 years ago by the Rev. Art Fellows and his wife, Norma, as a fundraiser.

“They were tractor people,” Phelps said, “John Deeres.”