Old iron in the new year

Members of the North River Old Iron Club catch up on Saturday at their first show of the year, hosted by Quincy Town Center.

QUINCY — The first show of 2021, and the first at the newly-branded Quincy Town Center, drew residents from all around the area this weekend.

The North River Old Iron Club brought out vintage tractors to put on display up and down the length of Quincy Town Center, formerly Quincy Mall. Club members said they don’t do a lot over the winter, so this is an event they use to get back together with one another and share their love of the old equipment with the public.

Club vice president Billy Powell brought a 1958 John Deere tractor that he pulled out of a barn and cleaned it up, finding it to be almost as good as new.

“It was covered in dirt,” Powell said. “I took it to a car wash and cleaned it, and it was ready to go. I haven’t had to do much work on it at all.”

Powell said his love of the old tractors comes from childhood.

“When I was kid, they put me on an A John Deere, with a front-mounted cultivator,” Powell said. “They made me get to work, and that’s where I got started.”

This weekend has had the largest turn-out for the show since the mall started hosting the event, with 43 tractors on display, coming in from the surrounding communities like Augusta, Carthage, Edina and Hannibal.

Powell said a big advantage to the older models is that they’re both easier and cheaper to own and work on.

Victor Raleigh came over from his own farm in Missouri to check out the tractors.

“We farm, and we do these older tractors, too,” Raleigh said. “We come through every year, but last year was the first year we brought a tractor to show.”

Raleigh said some repairs kept his tractor at home this year.

“We were going to bring it again this year, but we had some parts off it getting worked on, and they didn’t get done for us,” he said.

Powell said a lot of shoppers had been through the mall, and even though they may not have come for the tractors, they were attracting a lot of attention.

“We’d like to get more younger kids interested,” he said.

To try and attract that younger crowd, the North River Old Iron Club invited the Heartland Garden Tractor Pullers to join the show. The smaller, lawn-mower style tractors are dressed in eye-catching racing designs that Powell said kids love.

While the Quincy show is the first of the year for the club, it’s far from the only event they organize. In early summer, the club will host a tractor drive to raise money for the Honor Flight program. This year the drive will be the first weekend in June, and the line of tractors will travel from Hull, Ill. across the Mississippi River to Hannibal to display for a few hours before coming back to Hull.

For more information on the North River Old Iron Club or the Heartland Garden Tractor Pullers, both groups can be found on their respective Facebook pages. To stay up to date on events happening at Quincy Town Center, visit quincytowncenter.com.

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