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On the farm |

On the farm

ELIOT, Maine – The 22nd annual Antique Tractor Engine Show at Raitt Farm brought out the usual crowds.

There is just something about big farm equipment that attracts people of all ages and walks of life. This year was no exception and the glorious weather didn’t hurt.

Lisa Raitt, who organizes and manages the show each year, said this year they have old favorites and gained quite a few new tractor people to the event.

“We usually have a couple of hundred tractors in here at any one time,” Raitt said. “They come and go throughout the weekend. We are so excited to see so many of our regulars and to know the new generation is keeping the tradition going.”

There were a lot of T-shirts advertising that “Real Men Drive Trucks.” Staff members at Raitt Farm were selling their own commemorative T-shirts. A new one is created for the event each year and they have become quite the collector’s item.

“Richard Sabol of Dover makes them for us,” Raitt said. “He has made one for each of the 22 years we have held the event.”

One of the event highlights is intended for the women in attendance. The skillet toss is much anticipated and comes complete with bragging rights. The winners are the women who can toss the 3.5 pound skillets the farthest.

There are women who return every year to toss skillets, many with really good throwing arms. Rochester resident Kelly Henderson decided to try it this year for the first time.

“It was so great to see the camaraderie among the women who come every year,” said Henderson. “They all have their own warm-up style and it was great to watch. I will definitely be back next year.”

Asked how she did in the contest, Henderson said “I enjoyed myself.”

Her husband, Danny, said the event was on his wife’s bucket list for this summer.

There are three classes for the contest, 18-35, won by Julie Munson; 36-54, won by Cheryl Ziembroski; and 50-plus. won by Theresa Babkirk.

Raitt’s surprise guest this year was her brother. Darren, who lives in Nevada, showed up unannounced to help out with the event.

“He refurbishes fire engines for a living,” Raitt said. “He is a true gear head. He can do anything that involves an engine.”

This year, they had him branding the other collectible from the event, shingles, with the Raitt Farm insignia and the year burned into the wood.

“People come and get one every year,” Raitt said. “They varnish them and do whatever they want with their collection of shingles. They are really popular so I imagine they are all over the country.”

Making the shingles this year was Phil St. Jean, vice president of the Raitt foundation board. Raitt said the Rhode Island resident spends so much time at the farm that he was a natural board member.

“He’s pretty much a part of this museum,” Raitt said. “He has been coming here as long as I can remember.”

Raitt said the antique shingle mill can make any size and any thickness of shingle, rivaling anything made today.

“This shingle mill was built in 1896 by the Chase Turbine Company of Orange, Mass., and refurbished by me,” said St. Jean. “People love to see these old machines working. Similar mills are made today to make shingles, but they have a lot more safety guards on them than does this one. It is being powered by an Albanaque tractor, also very rare.”

Another hit was the antique oil pump. Raitt said they found it last year in a field in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

“It is from the late 1800s,” said St. Jean. “It is capable of pumping 40 wells at a time.”

Raitt said in the future they hope to get the oil pump set up for demonstrations.

“People used to sell oil as medicine,” said Raitt. “They used to take baths in it. They used to float the oil down river to skimmers at the other end. Imagine that happening today?”

Other activities include the ever popular barrel ride for the kids, tractors at work demonstrations and of course, there were tractor pulling demonstration throughout the day.

The event will continue today. Raitt said the gates close at noon as most of the tractors are leaving by then. But people are still welcome to come and look around and take part in some of the other activities.


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