AMMON — The old and the new melded into one this weekend in Ammon.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Old-Fashioned Planter’s Day, a two-day (or four-day, depending on who’s counting) celebration of antique farm equipment, tools, and machinery.
“This is the best festival in the county,” said organizer John Graham. “We have stuff you can’t find anywhere else.”
Exhibits included a saw mill that is cranked up each day, hit-and-miss engines, tractors, antique cars, a steam roller, turpentine tools, and typewriters more than 100 years old. Guests and participants alike, in a perfect dichotomy of old and new, were taking pictures and videos of the festival and posting them on social media.
“Whatever we need to do to get folks out here to see all this stuff,” said vendor Gail Dixon as she was posting her own wares online.
For the participants, though, it’s not just about the stuff — it’s just as much about the experience.
“We’re like family,” explained D.L. Radlcliff, gesturing at all the campers and RVs parked on the Graham farm. “We travel around together to all these festivals, and just enjoy hanging out together.”
While Radcliff was talking, several people pulled up on their golf carts, propped their feet on the dash, and stayed to talk, or meandered over with their lawn chairs to chat with Radcliff and his acquaintances under a tent. Radcliff said that Thursday night, the buffet spread they had when they all pooled their dinner contributions together rivaled any Baptist covered dish dinner, and his only problem was not being able to eat any more.
Participants enjoy the atmosphere so much, in fact, that they turn the two-day celebration into a four-day affair.
“We’ve been here since Wednesday,” Radcliff laughed, leaning back in his chair.
The feeling of family extends even beyond camaraderie and into trust. At one vendor’s site, various toy trucks were on display, with a plastic honor-system-based “Money Jar” sitting right beside it.
“We go off and leave it, and we might come back and find $20 in it. People are honest,” said its owner.
The event boasts “the neatest and biggest display of tools you’ve ever seen,” according to Dixon. A barn was full of wrenches, hammers, shovels, axes, and every other tool imaginable, all arranged neatly by type and size with pegboard and zip ties.
“Kids today need to see this stuff because they need to understand how far farming has come. Take that tractor over there,” Radcliff said, gesturing to a shiny, 1950s tractor near him. “That’s a single-row tractor completely made of metal. They have tractors now that do 36 rows at a time. Nobody would use anything like this except for a garden, and everything now is mass-produced and made of fiberglass. If you can explain to kids how things work, and how people used to use the equipment, they’re interested in it — you just have to explain it in a way they can understand.”
Graham was in complete agreement.
“I’d love to see buses of kids loaded up and brought out here for a field trip,” he remarked. “I’m telling you, it’s the best in the county.”
A sandbox with toy dump trucks and tractors lay beside tables set up in front of a stage. Gospel music, country, and bluegrass music spilled from its speakers while guests enjoyed a chicken and rice dinner Friday night. In addition, a variety of food vendors offered delights like Polish sausage, ice cream, shaved ice, cotton candy, fried catfish and shrimp, hot dogs, nachos and cheese, and funnel cakes.
Proceeds from the weekend’s events will benefit the Ammon Fire Department and the Ammon Ruritan Club.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.