Tractor parade celebrates small farm heritage
By TOM KANE
CALLICOON, NY Lou Tosto of Harrison, NY brought his family with his daughter, Isabella, 6, who sat on his shoulders to watch the parade of nearly 250 tractors as they passed by on Lower Main Street in Callicoon.
We had to drive nearly two hours to get here, Tosto said. I just love old tractors and there are some old ones here every year. You never see them anywhere else but here.
Tosto wasnt alone as crowds of local people and visitors from New York City and New Jersey crowded the sidewalks or sat in beach chairs to get a view.
This has turned into a real event, said Frosty Meyers of New York City and Callicoon, who owns a little putt-putt that his son drove. I participated in the first one and there were about 35 tractors in it. Then, the next year it got even better. Now, there are so many tractors passing by and it takes so long that its in danger of getting boring. A few years ago there were so many tractors that the traffic suddenly clogged up and the parade came to a complete halt. Now they have a good traffic system.
When I was in Warburg, Germany, I was utterly surprised when there was a parade of old tractors, said Nan Eschenberg of Callicoon, whose husband was in the parade. It was just like back home. I loved it.
The tractors came and came in a steady stream. It took nearly an hour and half for the last one to pass. There was an ancient Oldsmobile from 1901 rebuilt by Carl Denman, a retired farmer from Neversink whose farm was in Woodbourne, NY. There was a John Deere from 1939 driven by Mac Kolbe. A 1927 John Deere driven by Russel Olson. A 1938 McCormick Farmall driven by Dale Piping. A huge 1982 John Deere Combine Sidehill, the biggest tractor in the parade, driven by Adam Kays of Kays Farm outside of Callicoon. A Farmall from 1947 driven by Bob Van Blarcom. Another John Deere from 1948 driven by Dale Hess with his son Jacob, two, riding in the cab. A rebuilt Massey Harris owned by Mark Bauernfeind. A Forson from 1957 driven by Jack Mayer. In more modern vehicles, there was a 1999 New Holland by Ed Long and a Branson 2006 driven by Linda Borrelli.
The very tall Rich Otway of Lake Wallenpaupach had his son, Daniel, up on his shoulders watching the parade, with Daniel holding his ears because of the roar of the tractors.
Terry Regan of Elmwood Park, NJ with his wife Judy Pykus-Regan watched from the sidewalk. Im into tractors and have restored six of them but couldnt participate in the parade. Im moving to Callicoon and am fixing up my house.
Mark Bauernfeind, mentioned earlier, who restores tractors said, My dad, Herb Bauernfeind, had a farm and we used Massey Harris tractors. I restore only Massey Harrises. Im not a farmer but drive a truck and am into tractors like a lot of guys around here.
I dont know why this event is so popular, said his dad, Herb. I think a lot of locals and city people have decided to look into our small farm heritage. There are mostly small farms around here which were using this kind of tractornot huge but well built.
I grew up with these machines, said Joel Kurtz of Callicoon. Im not a farmer but I fix them when theyre broken. When you get something that will run for 60 or 70 years like some of these machines, you have a reverence and respect for them. Never again will they build machines like these. They were built in the old days with the farmer in mind who wanted to repair them himself and keep them running. The new ones are big and comfortable but I dont think theyll last long like these babies.
Dennis Nearing of Cochecton summed the day and the event up. These machines are great hobbies for a lot of people. I rebuilt one, my son is rebuilding one and my nephew is doing the same. A lot of people werent farmers but they had some cattle and a piece of land for which these machines were perfect. Theyre a kind of symbol. Theyre not comfortable like these new ones are but when you drove my old 730 all day, you knew youve done something good.