Five years ago, Roger and Bonnie Seabaugh invited some friends to take their tractors for a drive through north Cape Girardeau County. "We didn't dream this would get so big," Bonnie Seabaugh said Sunday at the 5th annual Caney Fork Antique Tractor Ride.
The event started in 2005 with 36 tractors showed up at the Seabaughs' farm west of Oak Ridge. On Sunday 113 tractors, which must be at least 40 years old to participate, headed out on the 26 mile ride through Daisy, Oak Ridge and Friedheim then back to the Seabaugh farm.
"We're happy it has grown so big," the Seabaughs said. "These are our friends and neighbors, there are several families with three generations here today."
The ride is an all-day family event, with tractors, drivers and some family members arriving Sunday morning to register, line up, visit and enjoy snacks and refreshments. The nearly two-mile-long line of tractors left shortly after noon.
By the time the tractors arrived back at the Seabaugh farm later in the afternoon, the drivers' families had gathered for the visiting, refreshments and dinner.
Bonnie Seabaugh said around 125 people were fed the first year, about 200 were fed last year. "This year we have meat for around 300," she said.
Families bring covered dishes, some area businesses make donations and a freewill offering is taken for the food and refreshments. "These are good, generous country folks," Bonnie said. "As long as this event is only costing us a few hundred dollars a year in out-of-pocket expenses, we intend to keep it going," she said.
Tables and chairs are arranged in two large sheds and a large tent set up for the event.
Dennis and Carol Lorenz of Shawneetown had hundreds of their farm toys on display from their D & C Farm Toys & Collectables business. Dennis Lorenz also farms and works at Bowman Milling Co.
Farmalls were the most-common tractors in the drive, followed by John Deeres and Fords.
One entry this year was a rare 1955 Cockshutt model-30. The Cockshutt was made in Canada, said owner and antique tractor collector Dallas Brown. Brown, who is 78, drove the Cockshutt in the ride. He is a retired truck driver and moved to the Oak Ridge area two years ago from Dexter, Mo.
"I have 14 antique tractors," Brown said, "but this Cockshutt I acquired about 12 years ago is my biggest pride and joy, and I really like to show it."
Several drivers said the crowds along the route grow larger each year. People sit on porches or bring lawn chairs closer to the road, watching the tractors go by. Though there is no official number of spectators, "several hundred" was the consensus from the drivers. The First Baptist Church of Oak Ridge called to confirm when the tractors would pass the church, because several families in the congregation intended to gather to watch the tractors pass.