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Vintage iron

Allis-Chalmers tractors take center stage at Gray antique tractor show
Story and photos by: Glen Liford 3/22/2019


Hawkins Farmers Cooperative Director Scott Rutledge poses with Damon Worron, 7, left, and Bradley, 5, two brothers from Ontario, Canada. Scott is an active member of the Tri-State Antique Power Association and one of the founding organizers of the annual Appalachian Antique Farm Show and Farmer’s Reunion.
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The featured highlight of the 25th annual Appalachian Antique Farm Show and Farmer’s Reunion was “Gathering of the Orange,” presented by the Tri-State Antique Power Association, at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray on April 26 thru 29, 2018. (See accompanying sidebar for details about this year’s event.)

The theme centered on the antique tractor show’s designation as one of two “Gathering of the Orange” shows by the National Allis-Chalmers Association in 2018.

“We are open to any color of tractor,” said Scott Rutledge, a director of Hawkins Farmers Cooperative, and one of the founding members of the Tri-State Antique Power Association’s show. “But in 2018, we’re making a special effort to attract as many Allis-Chalmers owners as possible.”

Allis-Chalmers enthusiasts flock to these gatherings to buy and swap parts and share the camaraderie of fellow owners who are accustomed to being surrounded by green and red machines at most shows, said Scott.

“Allis-Chalmers went out of business in 1985, and we just try to keep that bond alive,” he said. “It can sometimes be a challenge to find parts for some of these older tractors, and it’s good to have the orange to brighten a show.”

Scott bought his first Allis-Chalmers in the mid 1980s, and he said, “it just snowballed from there.” He now owns 17 or 18 of the orange tractors, along with 500 to 600 toys, 32 pedal tractors, and related literature and memorabilia. In a weak moment, he also admitted to owning other brands, but said he really doesn’t want to talk about those in public.

The 2018 show was deemed a success by organizers as it attracted more than 500 antique tractors, including more than 200 Allis-Chalmers machines, along with vintage engines, lawn mowers, and related equipment to the four-day celebration. Profits from the show were donated to local charities.

“Since we started, we have donated more than $81,000 to local charities and other worthwhile causes, including Shriners Hospitals for Children, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House,” said Scott.

Hawkins Farmers Cooperative and Washington Farmers Cooperative were among the many sponsors of the popular agriculturally centered show.

Brian Baxter of RFD-TV’s “Classic Tractor Fever” was on hand at the event shooting footage for the popular television program for the second year in a row.

“We’re pleased to attract folks from all over the country to this show,” said Scott. “Many out of state people belong to our club, which now numbers around 200 members, just to get the newsletter and keep up with friends.”

This year’s show scheduled for April 25-28

This year’s Appalachian Antique Farm Show & Farmer’s Reunion will feature a “Battle of the Brands” competition. Organizers are inviting owners of all makes and models to bring as many tractors as they can. The brand with the most participants will earn bragging rights for the year.

As usual, owners of all tractors, vintage engines, lawn and garden tractors, and related equipment are invited. The show boasts a large antique and parts area, and there are crafts and other items such as the popular quilt show for spouses who may be interested in something besides the antique iron. The parade of power, pedal tractor races and pulls, and the usual mix of fun activities will be on the agenda as always. Gates to the fairgrounds will open on Thursday, April 25 through Saturday at 8 a.m. and will close at dark. On Sunday, April 28, the show will open at 8 a.m. and close at 2 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, with children 12 years of age and younger free. Senior adults are eligible for $4 admission on Thursday, April 25. More information can be found at, or call Dave Gross at 423-341-7241 or Paul Helvey at 423-612-1332.

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