The Geneseo Working Farm Show is a step back in time


The Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s annual three-day Working Farm Show takes visitors back to what farm life was like in earlier times.

This 61st The annual show takes place Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18 at the show grounds, north of Geneseo on Illinois 92, three miles east of Interstate 88 or one-half mile east of west of Illinois Rt. 92.

Find out more: See the full program here2022 Work Farm Show Schedule

The Working Farm Show is a popular attraction for residents and visitors of all ages. This is a family event with plenty of activities for children, including train rides around the fairgrounds. Admission to the show is $5 a day or $10 for the entire weekend. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

A special feature this year will be demonstrations by Rich Trahan, a retired blacksmith from the historic John Deere site at Grand Detour.

Other features include members of the AE&TA harvesting corn and beans with mid-1900s equipment, showing the use of horses to work a field, thresh oats or wheat, operate a sawmill , ploughing, pressing and demonstrating gasoline engines as they were used in the early 1900s.

The annual show grows larger each year with more than 400 tractors, over 100 garden tractors and hundreds of gasoline engines, plus other farm memorabilia in the field.

The vendors’ fair at the show will feature a variety of handicrafts, carpet weaving, broom making and other demonstrations.

The entire show is accessible to people with reduced mobility. Pets are not allowed, with the exception of service dogs.

In 2010 the AE&TA moved to its current location after 48 years in different locations. The 40 acres of land were donated to the Association by Bill and June Cole of Hillsdale. AE&TA purchased an additional 10 acres to connect the land to Illinois 92, which allowed a driveway from the freeway to the fairgrounds.

They also lease additional space to Orville and Maxine McCord.

Disabled transport is available and the “people carrier” is also a convenient way to transport people to the show site.

The AE&TA grounds feature the wood frame barn that looks like it was built decades ago. The building was constructed using centuries-old techniques. Trillium Dell Timberworks, with help from the Timber Framers Guild, assembled and raised the tall building.

About 95% of the barn was built with wood sourced from Illinois forests. Even though the AE&TA barn was built with new wood, it looks like it’s been part of the Henry County countryside for years.

A catering building was also added to provide seating for show visitors.

The Jordan Mercantile Building was donated to the club in 2013 by Phil and Karen Jordan.

A train building was constructed in 2015, with labor and materials donated by the late Larry Colo, Geneseo and Bill Cole, Hillsdale

A special addition is the completion of the enclosed walkway connecting the timber frame barn to the new feature building.

Phil Jordan, former chairman of the AE&TA, said: ‘The enclosed walkway includes a disabled toilet and connects the feature building to the timber frame barn.’

AE&TA members share a belief in preserving the historical value of antique motor-driven farm equipment, from early horse-drawn plows to gasoline and steam-powered tractors, to equipment from the 1900s through the 1960s.

The band also believes in keeping machines running by putting them to work, which makes the band’s show unique as they use the equipment on display in demonstrations.

Each year the show features a different brand of antique engine and/or tractor, and the John Deere is featured this year. For general information, contact Phil Jordan, 309-314-5000, or Chad Jacobs, 309-314-0783.

John Deere introduced this year

Each year the Antique Engine & Tractor Association presents a different brand of antique engine and/or tractor and this year the group presents John Deere.

Before his death, Larry Gay, a member of the Antique Engine & Tractor Association for many years, and who had written books on the history of farm tractors, shared some of his discoveries about tractors and equipment… The content has been compiled by past and present members of the AE&TA.

John Deere, a blacksmith in Grand Detour, Illinois, made his name building a plow with a steel moldboard made from a discarded reciprocating saw blade. His blacksmith shop soon grew into a small factory and he moved his operation to Moline in 1848. The product was expanded with the Gilpin sulky plow and Deere & Mansur corn planters. In 1910 the company began to consolidate its operations by purchasing the sales branches and several other companies.

When Deere & Co. started experimenting with tractors, Joe Dain developed a 3-wheel tractor. In December 1917, the company decided to build 100. In March 1918, Deere & Co. bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company which had been producing the Waterloo Boy since 1914.

In 1923 John Deere D was introduced and was built until 1953. The Model C was the first row agricultural tractor introduced in 1927 and was later replaced by the GP. The next generation of tractors introduced by Deere & Co. were the A in 1934, the B in 1935, and the G in 1938. The Model L was added in 1938 for the small farmer. This was followed by the heavier LA model in 1941. The smaller H model was added in 1939. The M tractor started in 1947 and replaced the L, LA and tractors. The R was the first John Deere diesel tractor introduced in 1949.

The year 1952 saw the introduction of the 50 and 60 tractors to replace the A and B. The 70 replaced the G in 1953. The 40 replaced the M in 1953 and the 80 replaced the R in mid -1955. The mid-1950s brought a new look and line to the Deere tractor line – the 20 Series (320 – 820) in 1957-1958; and the 30 series (330-830) in 1959-1960. These were the last of the two-cylinder tractors.

In 1960 John Deere introduced the 1010, 2010, 30210 and 4010. With 4 and 6 cylinder engines came more power. The 5010 was new for 1963. Also in 1963 came the introduction of the 3020 and the 4020. The year 1966 brought the 1020, 2020, 2520 and the 5020. new 4 -wheel drive tractors WA-14 and WA-17 built by FWD Wagner.

The next evolution was the introduction of the 4030, 4230, 4430 and 4630 Generation II row crop models. Sound Guard cabs arrived in 1972 and improvements continued to follow in the John Deere tractor line. Today, John Deere remains a leader in the manufacture and development of tractors and agricultural equipment worldwide.


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