Three days of tractor pulling, parades, prizes, and plain ol’ fun at Paquette’s.
You’ll find a carnival atmosphere at Paquette Historical Farmall Museum this month. Days will be filled with music, food, games, and a tractor pull.
“We’ll have pulling for three days,” owner Stewart Paquette said. “There will be music during the day, a barbecue dinner on Friday night, the antique car club, and an antique truck show.”
The museum is Stewart’s passion. Ask him almost anything about the famous International Harvester tractors and he can tell you about it. “It was pretty much the tractor of Florida,” Stewart said. “Until we had the big freeze in the ’80s, they were all over this area. They went out of business in ’85.”
Stewart became interested in International Harvester (IH) because of its history and longevity. Back in 1830, Cyrus Hall McCormick field demonstrated his version of a horse-drawn reaper, which was patented in 1834. He and his brother, Leander, moved to Chicago and started McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. Famed financier, J.P. Morgan, merged with the company and it became International Harvester, which lasted until they began experiencing deep losses in the 1980s. Today, collectors around the world keep the tractors visible and, like Stewart, rebuilt and working.
This three-day event provides a great opportunity to enjoy not only exciting events like the tractor pull, but the amazing ladies’ frying pan toss, cornhole beanbag toss, a bouncy house, daily tractor parades, and lots of other fun-filled activities. There will be vendors, kettle corn, a food truck with Mexican food, ice cream, and many other goodies.
The ladies’ frying pan toss is always an enjoyable event. “They used cast-iron skillets, and they kept breaking,” Stewart said. “So we made steel ones. They’re all the same size so everybody has an equal chance, and we give out prizes. There will be prizes and trophies for everything.”
Stewart thinks the antique truck show and display of antique cars should be of special interest to history buffs. The trucks are part of Vintage Trucks of Florida and include everything from semis to farm trucks to fire trucks and their apparatus.
Though it’s not a sanctioned event, the tractor pull is governed by National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) rules. “We have a track and a sled, which is like those used in events in Inverness and Ocala,” Stewart said. “We didn’t have a professional pull in the beginning, so our events were just local drivers. We got together with a guy from Ohio and bought a professional sled. He uses it up there in the summertime, and we use it here in the wintertime.”
The tractors compete in various class levels: stock antique, super antique, open gear, farm stock, modified farm, open gear farm, and V-8 modified. The tractors pull a set weight in the sled. When a tractor makes it to the end of the 100-meter track that’s considered a “full pull.” More weight is added to the sled and competitors who moved past 300 feet have a “pull off,” and the winner is the tractor that pulls the sled the longest distance.
Jennifer Sidelinger, Stewart’s niece, runs the offices of the museum. The store offers an assortment of parts for IH vehicles; they receive orders from places across the pond like the United Kingdom and as far away as Australia and Japan.
There’s plenty of parking for cars and for self-contained campers. “We have places for tents and RVs,” Jennifer said.
“We’ll have new events and activities every day,” Stewart said. “Normally it’s $15 to tour the museum, but that’s included in the $10 daily ticket for this event.”
Don’t miss the ninth annual Historical Farmall Tractor Show & IH Chapter 27 State Show, Feb. 18–20, 8 am. – 5 p.m., at Paquette’s Historical Farmall Museum, 615 S. Whitney Road, off U.S. Highway 27. For information, visit stewsihstuff.com or call 352.728.3588.