THREE OAKS — A long line of vintage tractors took a lap around the Three Oaks area on Saturday, Sept. 4.
The River Valley Antique Power Association’s 22-mile Tractor Ride began and ended at the 1875 Jelinek Log Cabin on Stickles Road (near to the family farm) in rural Three Oaks. Nearly 40 machines rolled through the area, drawing plenty of attention along the way, especially in downtown Three Oaks.
“We’ve got people from Cassopolis, Indiana, and all over here. They all like to go for an open-air ride on the tractor,” said Ron Jelinek of the Antique Power Association.
Bill Marske of Three Oaks made the journey aboard a 1963 John Deere 1010.
“My grandfather (Andrew Marske) bought it originally, and it’s been in the family since 1963,” he said. “I use it at home all the time, I use it in my yard … I plant a garden.”
Chad Skala of Three Oaks was hard to miss atop a large, bright orange Allis Chalmers 210 from the 1970s.
“I bought it to farm with it and farmed with it for a short time,” he said. “I usually pull it at the Berrien County Youth Fair farm pull.”
His brothers, Todd and Jeff, also made the trip abroad vintage Allis Chalmer machines from the family farm.
Lillian Moore and Sarah Strefling drove large International Harvester tractors on Sept. 4 – Strefling a 1976 IH Hydro 100 and Moore a 1256 Wheatland built in 1968.
“There are just basically our parade tractors,” Strefling said, noting that other members of the family were at a tractor pull.
“We’ve all got to go to Shipshewana tonight, there’s a pull there,” she said.
Bill Donner of Three Oaks made the Tractor Ride on his 1965 John Deere 4020 with a special addition.
“They put a Detroit V-6 53 (diesel) truck engine in it,” he said, adding that the engine almost doubled the horsepower.
Donner said he recently took the machine to a big show in Rantoul, Ill., where “re-powered” tractors were featured.
Several participants in the Sept. 4 ride also are slated to cross the Mackinac Bridge on Sept. 11.
Jelinek led the way on Sept. 4 at the wheel of his 1944 Oliver 70 – the same tractor he once drove across the “Big Mac.”
“It’s older than I am,” Jelinek quipped, noting that his family “farmed with Olivers all my life.”
Jeff Watson of Elkhart, Ind., took his recently restored 1945 Farmall BN on a shakedown cruise before it’s big journey across the bridge.
“It’s the first ride after putting it together,” he said on Sept. 4.
Last year about 50 tractors took to the roads around Three Oaks in late August after the River Valley Antique Power Association cancelled its normal shows due to the pandemic.
The 2021 summer show went on July 17 and 18, and the fall show is scheduled for Oct. 2 and 3 at the Association Grounds, 7816 Warren Woods Road.
Jelinek said this year’s Tractor Ride was scheduled for Sept. 4 to work with the busy schedule of tractor shows and pulls in the area. He said there was a big tractor ride in Jones, Mich., earlier this summer.