On Saturday June 8th, 2013 I flew to St. Louis and then drove over to Evansville, Indiana for the Lawn & Garden Tractor Extravaganza and Classic Iron show.
I went to this event last year and flew DL DTW-EVV, but the schedule was not convenient this year and was cost prohibitive. My mom was planning to go to the show anyway so I figured I would fly WN to STL and drive over with her. I usually fly Delta out of DTW, but sometimes WN has some great schedules and prices to STL, so I will fly them occasionally. I like flying on WN, to STL, because the staff is friendly and I know I won’t ever have to fly on a pitiful CRJ-200
I arrived at DTW at 5:30am on the 8th and I was surprised to see how long the security line was. There were a lot of angry people in line and they were moaning and growing about unexpected fees, so I assumed they were Spirit Airlines passengers.
The terminal was almost dead around the Southwest gates.
I wondered over to the National Coney Island for breakfast. I had not eaten at the National in this terminal before, fortunately it was the same as the one in the other terminal.
I walked past security again after breakfast and it was now slow.
There wasn’t much action at the WN gate and the plane, a 737-700, was already there, I am pretty sure it overnighted at DTW
The boarding process went very smooth. I was position B-03 and the “B” line wasn’t even full and there was no C-line. When I boarded the plane I had no problem finding an aisle seat because the plane wasn’t even 2/3rds full. I don’t think there was anyone sitting in a middle seat.
We left the gate right on time at 7:20am and taxied out to a runway and took off right away, there must not have been anyone in front of us. Once we got up to cruise the FAs served snacks and beverages. I had a cup of coffee with peanuts and read the latest issue of Trains Magazine
In no time we were ready to land at STL. We came over the Mississippi River just north of downtown, a view I always enjoy. We landed and taxied right over to the gate, I was off the plane 15 minutes before our scheduled arrival time, so I was happy. The WN terminal at STL was rather crowded and the check in desks looked very busy.
I headed downstairs to passenger pickup; the sign was very fitting for me today.
I didn’t have any baggage, because I already had what I needed in St. Louis, ready to go. The baggage claim had some construction going on.
I headed out to the curb and was picked up by my mother and headed out to Evansville, Indiana.
We stopped in Caseyville, Illinois (on I-64) for more coffee and to get ice to chill down the Stag Beer.
Mom and I made it to Evansville’s Vanderburgh County 4-H Center by 11am, which was just in time to ride in the power parade. The power parade had full sized farm tractors and garden tractors in it. Mom rode my 1969 Hahn Eclipse GT-700 and I rode my 1975 Hahn GT-700. Also seen here is Kevin on a 1967 200, Zac on a 1971 GT-700 Hydro 12 and Jef on a 1974 RMD 400.
My friends and I collect Hahn lawn and garden equipment. Hahn was based in Evansville, Indiana from 1949 to 1993, when it became a division of Toro. The plant closed for good in 2002. Hahn made large agricultural sprayers then got into garden equipment. They bought Eclipse lawn mowers in 1961 and eventually purchased other makers of consumer equipment and golf course turf equipment. They sold off the consumer division to Gravely in 1980 and the other equipment went to Toro. We had thirty machines on display, which was up from nineteen last year. We have more at home, but couldn’t bring it all to the show. My buddy, Zac, had driving down to the show with our equipment the week before; I would love to have gone, but couldn’t take the time off of work during this time of the year.
You might be a redneck if: you sign autographs of your feature article (with our tractors on the cover) in Lawn & Garden Tractor Magazine.
After the power parade mom and I walked around and checked out the show. Not only was the Lawn & Garden Tractor Extravaganza going on so was the Classic Iron show, put on by the Southern Indiana Antique Machinery Club.
After lunch it was time to head over to the track for the garden tractor rodeo. The events are a lot of fun for kids and adults. A new event for this year was the “tractor limbo” after each pass the bar would get lower and lower. Careful planning and discussion goes into this event LOL!
Some of the kids had a natural advantage, but some the seats of their tractors were too high to be competitive in the event. Jef Schilling of Graf, Iowa on his 1974 Hahn RMD 400 was a real competitor and came in second. Jef will be in 10th grade in the fall and it is great to see young people interested in the hobby.
My buddy, Zac Winstead, who has the largest Hahn collection around, won the competition, which surprised everyone. I guess the four beers Zac had before the competition limbered him up.
Some of the other events were the chain drag where you have to put 10 feet of chain in a square in a fast time. I can do that event, but my 69 Hahn Eclipse GT-700 isn’t fast enough in reverse to be competitive.
There were plenty of other events too; like the drag race and the slow race. The slow race is fun because it is all about how slow you can go without touching the clutch or brake. Last year I lost, but this year there were a few machines ahead of me.
We signed up for some more events like the barrel roll and the log drag, but we found out Kent Hahn was at our display so we hurried back up the hill to visit with Kent. We have known Kent for a few years no, but this was the first time he saw our display. Kent’s uncle and father started the company in 1949 and he worked for them from 1973 to 2002. He still does contract work for Toro and owns a firm called Hahn Application Products, which builds small sprayers for golf courses.
After we had a few beers with Kent it was time to fire up all the equipment, which is a loud event, which draws a lot of attention. Anytime you have this many old machines, no matter how much time you spend working on them, you always have one that doesn’t want to start easily
One of my favorite things about the Vanderburgh 4-H Center is that is next to the CSX mainline. This former Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad line sees several dozen trains a day, so this is a choice place to watch trains, if you are a railroad buff.
Mom and I went out for dinner and beer at the Tin Man Brewery on Franklin Street. I had not been there before and the food and beer were very good. After that we headed over to Hoosier Hot Rods & Classics to see some of the projects our friend, Jeff Shelton, was working on.
Once we came back we settled in for a night of heavy beer guzzling. We had cooler full of Stag, plus a fridge filled with Potosi, Busch, and Hamm’s. We took off riding our tractors around (we were not on public roads so it is legal to drink and drive) and visiting with other show goers who we drank beer and ate with. Some guy made some great peach cobbler in the firebox of his Huber steam traction engine. There is also a smoke house near the steam engine shed where guys where smoking pork ribs, which were very tastey.
After a good while hanging around and drinking beer we decided to head back up to the camper, which was very pitiful, and drink more beer. Zac’s mower had the drive belt fall off so he had to fix that and then I ran out of gas. Zac pushed me up the hill with the snow plow.
We drank beer until 1 am or so and finally passed out. The next morning my mom, who was staying with Zac’s mom, in town, brought us breakfast with coffee. By mid morning it was time to start tearing the show down, because heavy rain was predicted. Zac stated sucking gas out of our machines, with his home built pumping system.
We loaded up Zac’s trailer with some of the machines he was keeping at his mom’s house and our friend, Kevin Burton, loaded up his machines. Jef and his dad loaded up his four machines for the trip back to Iowa.
Zac, Kevin, Jeff, Jef and myself loaded up Zac’s truck and trailer for the trip back to Michigan. We had more machines than when we came. Zac picked up another tiller from the 60s, a tiny 17 inch mower from 1975, plus some parts mowers from the 60s. I picked up a great 1959 Hahn tiller with a 3 1/2 hp Briggs & Stratton, which needs restored.
We headed out and beat the storm as we headed north. We decided to stay the night at the Holiday Inn Express in Anderson, Indiana. Before we checked in we decided to drink some beer and have dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.
The trip from Anderson to Detroit, the next day, was rather eventful because we had some straps break and my 1969 GT-700 and 1975 LTD-500 almost went flying; one near Fort Wayne, Indiana and the other near Monroe, Michigan. Good thing for safety chains!
We decided to leave the bumpy I-75 and took US-24 back to my house in Taylor, Michigan. Zac and I unloaded my stuff and he drove another hour up to his Hartland, Michigan home. It was a great trip involving all of my favorite things; airplanes, trains, cars, old machines, beer, and food. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
[Edited 2013-06-11 17:02:52]