Food and tractors a draw for fair opening

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Antique tractors and food were the main draw for fairgoers on opening day of the 150th SEMO District Fair.

Tim Arnold of Sikeston, Mo., explained that tractors revolutionized farming. He and his wife produce 18 million pounds of chicken annually for Tyson. "Used to be that the more kids you had the bigger farm you could have. Now it's more tractors," he said.

Arnold said that some of a tractor's history could be deciphered from its appearance.

"Tractors took us from mules to where we are today," he said. "The one with the steel wheels was made during WWII when rubber went to the war effort. What sold these tractors was the different fuels you could use. The John Deeres and Farmalls start on gas and convert to kerosene for cost-effectiveness," said Arnold.

He said that fuel for diesel tractors started out low and because they didn't run hot, added longevity to a motor. But the price of diesel fuel is now equivalent to that of regular gas. "I think in the future they'll be electric tractors with GPS that will lay out the best plowing and disking plans that farmers will be able to operate them from a computer."

While the tractor pull event drew many people to the first day of the fair, others went for the treats.

"The food's the best," said Michelle Thele of Marble Hill, Mo. Taffy is one of the traditions she shares with her 6-year-old son, Colby. Seeing Smokey Bear at the Missouri Department of Conservation booth is another. "I've been seeing him since I was a kid," she said.

"We come here for the food," said Sherry and Danny Sissom of Cape Girardeau. "But we don't like paying $4 admission to gain access to it."

Stefanie Tooley of St. Peters, Mo., likes funnel cakes but she said she mainly came to see John Taylor, who lives in Cape Girardeau. "We used to have Taylor Implement," said the agribusiness major. Taylor had already participated in the antique tractor pull and had worked up a hearty appetite for 4-H burgers.

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