By BARRIE ALAN PETERSON
FROM Pebble Beach, Calif., to Greenwich, Conn., and at dozens of picturesque settings in between, shows for vintage vehicles offer enthusiasts the opportunity to rub elbows with historic machinery in country-club surroundings.
Not every gathering needs to be a concours d’élégance where white-gloved judges probe the undersides of pristine Duesenbergs in search of a historically incorrect hose clamp, however. A decidedly more populist show was the 21st Red Power Roundup, which attracted an estimated 25,000 people last June to the LaPorte County Fairgrounds in northwest Indiana to see some 2,000 tractors and trucks made by International Harvester.
One of more than 1,400 antique tractor events across North America in 2010 listed by Farm Collector magazine, it is considered by many in the hobby to be the World Series of farm tractor meets, a heartland counterpoint to blazer-and-ascot antique car events and casual suburban cruise nights.
To a casual spectator, the rows of gleaming red International tractors represent the steady progress of industry in modernizing crop production, but to the shrinking number of Americans rooted in farming, they represent a heroic era. From the early 20th century, tractors pulled plows and cultivating equipment, powered grain combines and hay balers, eventually hauling crops to the barn or to an elevator in town. They enabled American farmers to feed the world.