Rural Missouri - September 2012 - (Page 14)

A by Jason Jenkins ll passions have a beginning. Michael Hinton can trace his to the middle of a seemingly endless sea of swaying wheat. Michael grew up on the flat plains of central Kansas, literally surrounded on all four sides by cropland. As a boy, he watched with fascination as his neighbors tended their fields — tilling and planting and harvesting their crops with all varieties of equipment. Michael fell in love, not with John Deere Green or International Harvester Red, but with the honest, hard-working way of life that tractors and farming epitomize in rural America. In 2007, he and his family moved to West Plains; a year later, Michael bought his first antique tractor, a 1949 Farmall Cub. However, like a snowball rolling out of control down an Ozark hillside, his passion for antique tractors quickly grew beyond the mere collecting of old iron. Today in his spare time, he maintains one of the most comprehensive websites dedicated to vintage farm machinery. And, if he has anything to say about it, his adopted hometown will one day become an epicenter of implements known simply as “Antique Tractor Town, U.S.A.” “I just always wanted an antique tractor,” says Michael, a Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative member who lives just outside of West Plains with his wife, Tonya, and daughter, Melissa. “Tonya’s dad has amassed a wonderful collection of more than a dozen Farmalls, so I kind of married into it, too.” After buying his Farmall Cub, the tractor sprung a few leaks, and Michael discovered it required some extensive work. He began scouring the Internet, learning about the model’s history, searching for replacement parts and seeking out general information about tractor restoration. “I thought to myself, ‘There’s a lot of work to this. If I’m having this kind of trouble trying to find things like parts and information, others are, too,’” he recalls. “There ought to be a website where somebody could go.” Armed with all the information he gathered during his restoration project, he approached a local web developer who helped him build a website. By early 2010, was up and running. The site’s name hints at Michael’s aspiration to one day become the next Roger Welsch. “I used to watch Roger every week on ‘CBS News Sunday Morning,’” Michael says. “He did a segment called ‘Postcards from Nebraska.’ When I think of antique tractors, I think of Roger Welsch. He’s who I aspire to be.” Michael loaded up his website with links to tractor clubs, tractor shows, parts manufacturers, articles and videos on tractor restoration, museums and books — essentially anything tractorrelated. He created sections dedicated to various manufacturers such as John Deere, Minneapolis-Moline and AllisChalmers. Soon, he began to hear from tractor enthusiasts and collectors around the world who found the site and were thankful for the one-stop shop he created online. In addition to antique tractor information, Michael, who serves on West Plains’ Tourism Development Advisory Council, included links to sites about Since childhood, Michael Hinton, pictured here with his 1960 Farmall 340, has had a love for old iron. Today, he hosts, a website where enthusiasts can find a wealth of information about vintage tractors. Plowing forward with a new tradition Local collector envisions West Plains as ‘Antique Tractor Town, U.S.A.’ Tractors on the Square When: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 29 Where: Downtown West Plains About: Scores of antique tractors will • line the historic downtown district square as Missouri celebrates the third annual Antique Tractor Preservation Day. Enjoy music, food, shopping, children’s activities including a kiddie tractor pull and much more. Cost: Admission is free with parking available. Contact: Those interested in exhibiting an antique tractor may e-mail or call 417-255-1524. There is no fee to exhibit. WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP West Plains Missouri and West Plains. He wanted to promote his state and hometown as tourist destinations; however, in the summer of 2010, the scope of his antique tractor endeavor grew immensely. “The city came to me and asked us to organize a tractor show,” recalls Michael, who works as marketing manager for Gammill Quilting Systems in West Plains. “Literally, within six weeks, we had put together a tractor show on the fairgrounds.” To help add legitimacy to the show, Michael petitioned Gov. Jay Nixon to declare the date of the event as “Antique Tractor Preservation Day” in Missouri. Nixon obliged in 2010 and again every year since. “Missouri has the first and only Antique Tractor Preservation Day in the country,” Michael says proudly, noting the first show featured nearly 40 tractors. “It’s just evolved and evolved ever since.” Though Michael was not able to organize a tractor show or event in 2011 due to illness, he was successful in requesting a commemorative pictorial postmark from the U.S. Postal Service to mark the occasion. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson recognized the day with a statement in the U.S. Congressional Record. This year, there will be a brand new postmark to observe Antique Tractor Preservation Day, along with an event on Sept. 29 — Tractors on the Square. “Michael’s idea was like a little gift,” says Toney Aid, owner of Downtown Antique Mall and member of the Downtown Business Association in West Plains. “One of our goals is to have more events in our historic downtown, so everyone is excited to be able to help Michael put this event on and make it a success.” The daylong celebration will be held on West Plains’ courthouse square, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Michael has set a goal of having at least 100 tractors for the event, along with food, music, a quilt raffle and children’s activities. He plans to exhibit his Farmall Cub, along with the other two tractors in his personal collection: a 1942 Farmall H and a 1960 Farmall 340. Michael has big plans for the future, too, both personally and for West Plains. He’s currently searching for his next tractor — a 1950 Case DC that once was his grandfather’s tractor. He hopes to publish two children’s books that he’s written, and eventually he plans to open an antique tractor museum in West Plains. He’d also like to see Antique Tractor Preservation Day become a national celebration with West Plains as the center of the festivities. “There’s no reason why West Plains can’t be Antique Tractor Town, U.S.A.,” he says matter-of-factly. “The city has supported us in everything we’ve done. The clubs have supported us, the state has supported us and the collectors all across the United States have supported us. I really hope that in the future, when people think of antique tractors, they think of West Plains, Mo.” It’s a hope that Bob Case, the city’s director of economic development, shares with Michael. “This thing keeps growing every year,” Bob says. “It gets bigger and bigger, and I think eventually — if Michael sticks with it and surrounds himself with people who are as enthusiastic as he is — this could evolve into something that’s truly spectacular.” 14 http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2012

Rural Missouri - September 2012
Table of Contents
Where the wild things are
Hit the trail
Plowing forward with a new tradition
Out of the Way Eats
Devastating drought
Hearth and Home
Closing the gateway
Around Missouri
A man & his monsters

Rural Missouri - September 2012