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Tractor Envy

This year’s S.E. Indiana F.A.R.M. Club antique tractor show features Ford

The 21-year-old club brings June show
to Ripley County, Ind.

OSGOOD, Ind. (June 2017) – Antique farm tractors and implements mean a lot to Chuck Heck and his father, Charles Thies. They formed a club in Ripley and Dearborn counties to stage an annual event to show their collection to other lovers of the farm equipment.
“After we got an interest, I decided we needed a local club,” Heck said. “It started in my family room 21 years ago. Our show features farming antiques and related machinery. About 4,500 people come to the show. The length of show depends on weather, and how many come for the tractor pull.”
This year, Southeast Indiana F.A.R.M. Club’s Antique Machinery Show is being held on June 22-24 at the Ripley County Fairgrounds in Osgood, Ind. Sunday is a limited activity day.
“A lot of people can’t stay late Sunday because they have to be at work on Monday,” said Heck. “So on Sunday, they are ready to go home.”

Photo by John Sheckler

Charles Thies (sitting on tractor) and Chuck Heck formed the Southeast Indiana F.A.R.M. Club about 21 years ago. The club’s annual show is in June.

The group features different implements each year. This year, the featured implements are Ford and an older Ford called Fordson. 
The event features a lot of demonstrations, including a working 1920s sawmill, 1940s style thrashing, a 1920s corn shredder and a 1930s hay press.
“We also have a Ensilage silage cutter silo filler,” said Thies. “When Chuck’s brother, Ray, from Columbus, Ohio, died, we were interested in keeping his tractor in the family. He was a devout member of our club. He had five tractors. Most were International Harvester or Massey Ferguson. Chuck now has 13, mostly International.”
Charles keeps the Massey Harris “Pony” in his garage. It is easy to see it is well maintained. It is as spotless as any hot rod on the classic car circuit.
“I started with a John Deere 40. I still farm with my tractors but have one only for show,” said Thies. His show tractor is an Oliver 70 industrial.
Charles calls his John Deere by a nickname, Johnny.
“I take the Johnny with me to do demonstrations at shows,” he said.
The father and son duo have a trailer loaded with horse-drawn plows ready to go to the show.
“It is easy to get this stuff but a job to get it ready for the shows,” said Heck. “Between me and him, we burn up this road between here and Osgood.”
“Younger people like the old tractors, but are more interested in sports and hunting and fishing,” said Thies. “When I was young, my dad had an accident, so I did the farm work. There were cows to milk and hay to bring in. My interest in tractors started two to three years before we started this club. We went to shows in Rushville. That was the beginning, so we thought we could start a club.”
“In 79, a guy from Harrison (Ohio) brought his steam engine,” said Heck.
The group plans many other activities for the event. Other activities include antique vendors and a trading post. The Ripley County Homemakers have a quilt show and bake competition. There are live country bands on Friday and Saturday afternoon.
“The trading post is the most visited,” said Thies. “The trading post is a building on the grounds that is used as a consignment barn. People wait every year so they can come in and get the first bargains.”
Early Saturday starts with a 4-H tractor drive contest with obstacle course and wagon backing.
“On Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. there is a kid’s petal tractor pull,” said Heck. “Kids are in weight classes and pull 70 pounds. That is a hoot. There are always at least four, sometimes as many as 60-70 kids in the competition.”
“They all have a good time,” added Thies.
Some of the grand stand events rival state fair activities.
“On Thursday, there is side by side drag racing on dirt,” said Heck. “We have 20 classes from stock to crazy, like the 1500 hp diesel souped up. It is sanctioned by Southern Indiana Dirt Drags and open to Kentucky and all states that border Kentucky.”
One of their grandstand events drew national attention two years ago when it was featured on NBC sports in three half-hour segments each.
“Our semi tractor trailer pull allows winners to build points for the Battle for the Bluegrass Pulling Series,” said Heck. “Everything went perfect; standing room only. It was our biggest crowd ever. It put Ripley and Osgood on the national stage.
“The farm implements show started at Perfect North Slopes,” said Thies. “But they ran out of room for us.
If we can get somebody to the show once, they are hooked.”

• For more information, call, Chuck Heck at (812) 926-3654 or visit www.farmclubonline.com.

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