Tractors rolled down the street during the Tractor Parade honoring the 200th anniversary of the Three County Fair in Northampton, MA. There were 132 tractors that answered the summons from coordinator and Northampton resident, Richard Jaescke and other tractor enthusiasts.
A historical wooden stagecoach driven by Muddy Brook Farms of Amherst headed the parade carrying past fair president and Williamsburg resident, centenarian Edwin Warner along with other fair officials. Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz drove a 3930 Ford tractor owned by Jaescke. It was actually a New Holland tractor, but labeled Ford during the transition period, notes Jaescke.
“The mayor had a couple of lessons. It didn’t take him too long to catch on. He grew up in Shelburne Falls and remembered driving his uncle’s tractor,” said Jaescke. “That’s symbolic of the city of Northampton” and its strong agricultural roots.
Jaescke’s own agricultural roots entail owning the RCW Landscape and Construction business and baling 7,000 bales of hay and straw annually at his Pine Brook Farm. His T-6 New Holland and T-5 New Holland were also in the parade on Sept. 2.
“The people are very supportive of agriculture. These tractors are something people need to see, especially in this valley. It’s a big farming area,” said Jaescke. “We had good weather. Without the people coming with their tractors, it wouldn’t have happened. We’re so grateful to the guys that came. They enjoyed themselves.”
People are used to seeing just one or two tractors at a time. This entourage of tractors was the result of a mass poster drive by Jaescke, his wife Sandra, Francis “Fran”Judd and his wife Linda from Goshen, Tony Amato of Northfield, Walter Thayer and Joel LaPerle of Hatfield, Jaime Wagner of Amherst and Avis Fusek from North Hatfield.
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) helped put the word out and MFBF members drove in the parade as well as served coffee and donuts on the morning of the ride.
Organizers had aimed for 200 tractors. “Pretty much anything over 100 would be pretty good. We were very pleased,” said Jaescke. Riders called up until the last minute, asking if they could ride. The majority of riders came from Hampshire County, some from Franklin County, and as far away as Pepperill, MA and southern Vermont.
An antique Fordson tractor with steel wheels rode in the parade on a trailer, due to its age and also to avoid its steel wheels cutting up the road’s asphalt. The parade’s caboose was the infamous decorated Hatfield Hellion truck that spun around, rather like the entertaining Shriner’s vehicles.
“I was surprised at the amount of people at the edge of the road and the support that we got,” said Fran Judd. Twenty-five years ago, Judd entered his red antique Farmall F-12 as part of a tractor exhibit in the Three County Fair farm museum. Fair officials informed Judd that it was a very successful exhibit piece because it was a great photo op. This was all the affirmation he needed to continue his interest in maintaining and driving antique tractors.
Considering all the tractors driven in the parade, “You couldn’t have got a better tractor show if you tried,” said Judd. “There was every make and model from vintage to Trax tractors. [Tractors] powered by gas, diesel and propane — but no steam.”
His sons and his daughter-in-law April also rode in the parade.
“It was a lot of fun. It was great to see the people on the side of the road to wave to,” said April. She has driven tractors on the Judd family farm but not on roads nor on the annual 25-mile tractor rides spearheaded by Judd for the past decade which traverse backroads of Cummington.
Back at the Judd’s home stood their gentle giant — a 17-hand Belgian named Hemi. He is reminiscent of the time when horses were the only reliable source of big muscle farm power. Hemi is in his early 20s. He isn’t driven much now as his driving mate, Doc, passed away a few years ago. Hemi is more of a follower, noted Judd. He needed Doc to spur him on as Doc consistently pawed the ground to get going under harness. If encouraged, though, Hemi would persevere.
Jaescke’s aim for the tractor ride was to celebrate the Three County Fair’s 200th anniversary and their support of all agriculture and persevering farmers. His second aim was to bring a smile to people’s faces, and he did.