Farm tractor calendar founder to be featured at farm show in Penfield

PENFIELD – John Harvey looks at it as American history, not just farm history.

Harvey, founder of the Classic Farm Tractor Calendar, found a niche that is near and dear to many people’s hearts when he started the calendar a quarter-century ago.

Many love the nostalgia of old farm equipment.

Harvey, of Wilmington, Del., will be honored at this year’s Historic Farm Days in Penfield. The occasion is the 25th anniversary of the start of the calendar.

Historic Farm Days opens Thursday and runs through Sunday on the grounds of the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.

“It’s American history, and practically all of the tractors that appeared in the calendar were made in America,” Harvey said last week.

He said there have been 84 different makes of tractors featured in the calendar over the years.

“Every issue (of the calendar) I try to have an unknown or rare tractor,” Harvey said. “If they even made just a few of them, it’s part of agricultural history from the 20th Century.”

Harvey said the calendar stems from his days working for DuPont, which used it for promotional services for its distributors and customers. The native of northwest Missouri, where he grew up on a small dairy farm, lost his job with DuPont in 1993 and formed his own company — Classic Tractor Fever — the following year.

The company not only produces the classic calendar, it also sells 50 other products related to vintage farm equipment, including caps, shirts, even playing cards.

It’s the calendar, though, that has caught the most attention.

“It’s been a tremendous amount of fun,” Harvey said.

Harvey, who is 79, sold his company in 2011 but continues to select all the photos, write all the copy and do all the prepress work for every issue of the calendar.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the calendar, the club has scheduled the John Harvey Hootenanny at 5:25 p.m. Thursday.

The event includes a banquet, a giant birthday cake, door prizes and an auction of toy tractors and classic tractor memorabilia owned by Harvey. Proceeds of  the auction will go to Wounded Warriors. Max Armstrong will serve as master of ceremonies.

John Fredrickson, I&I club president, said every owner whose tractor has appeared in the classic calendar has been invited to attend the show.
Historic Farm Days draws a large number of people to the area.

“We’ve been getting a lot of response from out-of-state people who plan to attend the show,” Fredrickson said.

The I&I president said interest in the purchase of vintage farm equipment continues to escalate.

“I go to a lot of the auctions where estates are liquidated or a collector decides to downsize, and the value just keeps going up,” Fredrickson said.

One reason is return on investment.

“If a person’s got money, you can get virtually no return for the cash,”

Fredrickson said. “An antique tractor can increase in value as well as (give the owner) a lot of satisfaction of ownership.

“Instead of buying collector cars (many people) are buying collector tractors.”

Fredrickson added: “There’s many people that collect all kinds of equipment. It’s especially evident at the Half Century of Progress (staged by the club biannually in Rantoul). Some collect combines and corn pickers. Plows are a very collectible item any more.”

This year, Ford, New Holland and Versatile equipment lines will be featured at the show.

There will also be demonstrations of wheat harvesting, straw baling, plowing and tillage. A corn sheller and thrashing machine will also be working.

There will also be tractor pulls and fireworks Saturday night, entertainment and parades.

A raffle will be held for a Ford 9600 tractor. Second prize will be $200, and third prize, $100.

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