If you're heading out to the Indiana State fair this afternoon, treat yourself to the best bargain during the entire fair. Get yourself a great, free seat in the grandstand for the annual Farmer's Day Parade, starting this year at 3 p.m. If Mauri Williamson narrates it, like they could keep him from at least being part of the reviewing panel, the comments will be lively and interesting.
I thought back to other Farmers Day parades, going all the way back to my childhood, when we just attended the fair as spectators for a day. We tried to hit Farmers day if we could. We're talking the late 1960s. Pioneer Village just opened in 1968 in its new building, although the tradition dates to 1961 at the fair. But even in the '60's, there were bands and floats and lots of pageantry.
Afterwards, we went home and jumped on tractors that could be part of the parade this year as antiques, including a John Deere 620 LP tractor, an Allis-Chalmers D-17, series IV, with three-point hitch, and a Massey-Ferguson 35 with loader. We also at times had an Allis-Chalmers WC that you could still hand-crank if you were dumb enough to try, an Oliver 88 and a Massey-Harris 44 gas tractor.
No doubt you'll see some of them in the parade today. Some are still in their work clothes, like ours was. Well, the John Deere 620 was repainted in the ag shop along about that time. Whether that counts as getting restored is questionable. Ag shops are where kids learn how to weld and paint, not necessarily where they do their best work.
Many tractors are restored. People will come from all over to drive their sparkling antique tractors around the track, some pulling old implements, from Allis-Chalmers, throw the straw out the side;' combines to wagons and the like.
There will also be floats. One that pushed the envelope for me a few years ago was a float that featured outhouses as a Hoosier tradition. They even had an outhouse on the float. You can imagine what Mauri Williamson, West Lafayette, the former director of the Purdue Alumni Association and fixture in Pioneer Village, had to say about that one.
For a couple years I even judged the floats in the parade. I remember standing in the infield as old-timers lined up oxen and horses on carts and wagons. A pair of oxen makes an impression someone standing nearby.
So if you're around this afternoon near the grandstands, stop on by. Relive history for a bit, and meet some of today's leaders in agriculture too. It's a great blend of what Indiana agriculture has to offer.