CROTON – If tractors could write, they’d each write book about a foot thick, said farmer Wilmer “Willy” Purshing, a Land of Legend Antique Tractor Club member. He and some of his fellow club members, including Hebron resident Dixie Cayton, sought refuge from the blazing sun beneath a tent at the 2010 Hartford Fair in Croton. More than 160 antique tractors surrounded the tent, some dating back to the 1920s and one was even homemade.
Purshing told the story of Herman Buckenberger, whose father refused to buy him a tractor back in the 1930s. Buckenberger, who was in high school at the time, built his own tractor from spare tractor, truck, and automobile parts. He even built the frame. The old tractor sat in a far corner of the fair’s antique tractor display.
“It’s not often you see this much junk in one spot,” joked Cayton, who said the Hartford Fair’s antique tractor display has featured up to 200 tractors some years. Some of the tractors are beautifully restored while others literally have to be dragged into the display. “I think this is the coolest spot in the whole fairground,” he said. This year, the display featured a 1928 Allis Chalmers and 1929 Huber. Some of the tractors pull passenger shuttles around the fairgrounds.
This year’s Hartford Fair included all sorts of new features as well the old favorites. This was the first year for the school bus races, which slammed their way around the track Sunday night. And, the Budweiser Clydesdale Horse Team arrived at the fairgrounds Monday afternoon, scheduled to travel the fairgrounds 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The goat barn welcomed a 40 by 60 feet addition. This year’s entertainment featured “up and coming” country singing sensations Chuck Wicks and Justin Moore. The motorcycle motocross, tractor pulls, and the popular Rough Truck contest all returned this year in fine tradition.
“We had a great fair,” said Larry Hughes, fair manager and secretary, who said attendance was roughly 217,000. He said attendance was down about 22,000 from last year, which he attributed to the extremely hot and humid weather. Hughes said the Rough Truck contest Friday night brought in the most people of any event at 48,000. He credited the Budweiser Clydesdale horses with drawing plenty of visitors as well.
Office Manager Cindy Twyford said junior fair entries were slightly higher this year than last at 5,507, while open class entries were slightly lower at 5,308. She said this was the first time a fair featured two performers on the same night. One of the fair’s few glitches was a power outage just as Moore took stage, but Twyford said the electricity was down for only about an hour, after which Moore played an energetic twohour set and interacted with the crowd. Track seats were sold out for the concert. Twyford said the Sunday night bus race was a hit and helped to boost attendance on a day where attendance is usually slow. “They had great participation,” she said.