PRESTON, Idaho — Driving a tractor is both work and play for Donnie Sanderson.
He can, in minutes harvest acres of feed barley with modern equipment. But in his free time, Sanderson putts around on machinery from his grandfather’s era, often inviting other area antique tractor collectors to plow days, where they share meals and till together.
The Preston farmer entered three of his 16 vintage tractors in Valley Wide Home & Ranch’s first antique tractor show June 6-7.
Valley Wide has also scheduled a Rexburg show for June 13-14, followed by a Rupert show June 20-21, a Menan show on June 27 and shows in Salmon and Nyssa, Ore., on June 28.
Valley Wide will sell hamburgers at each show, benefiting the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Rexburg and local FFA chapters in the other cities. At the inaugural event, students from the West Side and Preston FFA chapters selected a 1951 Ford tractor entered by Stewart Buttars as the best in show and a 1938 John Deere L, entered by Beckey Sherer, won fan favorite.
Eric Holbrook, Valley Wide’s marketing manager, said the business sent a request to customers for help in finding antique tractor collectors from each region, resulting in plenty of entries for each show, including 14 tractors in Preston.
“We’re really happy with the first turnout of this year, and we’re hoping to turn this into annual event where we get lots and lots of tractors,” Holbrook said.
Sanderson, who specializes in crawler tractors and equipment from the 1950s and 1960s, showcased the sentimental prize of his collection — a 1957 Case IH. It was the only new tractor his grandfather ever bought. Sanderson is now procuring antique plows to pair with all of his antique tractors.
For Buttars, of Preston, restoring old tractors has led to another hobby — building their miniature replicas from old bolts and chisel plow bearings.
Sherer, also of Preston, creates paper mache characters to display with her antique tractors in parades and shows, seeking to spark the interest of children and teach them a lesson about agricultural heritage.
Her antique collection includes a steam-powered tractor from 1906, but her gem is the unstyled, 1938 John Deere L she entered in the Preston show.
“They made less than 1,500 of them,” Sherer said. “There are not that many around, maybe a couple of hundred left.”
John Packer, of Franklin, used to race stock cars, until repairing the damage became too expensive. He’s switched over to tractors and now has 16 antiques in his collection, kept in a large storage shed.
In the Preston show, he entered a 1947 Allis Chalmers WC Patrol, which was restored by Box Elder High School students in Brigham City, Utah, and placed high in a national competition. Their adviser recognized the tractor as a rare specimen — one of only 3,300 ever built. In addition to driving his tractors in parades and using them in local plow days, Packer competes in weight-pulling competitions through the Cache Valley Antique Tractor Association.