July 9, 2014

Old-time farm equipment sturdy but less efficient

MORRISONVILLE — Champlain Valley Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Association Inc.'s 24th-annual exhibition offered attendees a look into the rich and sometimes rusty past of farming in the North Country.

"People around here are forgetting Clinton County’s agricultural history," said Sam Sorrell of Morrisonville, the association's president. 

"It seems to be big businesses. Small farms aren’t there anymore."



The association hosted the exhibition at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Morrisonville this past weekend. 

The event featured several tractor pulls, an antiques auction and an antique tractor parade, along with many displays and demonstrations.

Sorrell estimated that around 150 people participated in the event and that more than 100 people went through the gate each day. 

"Yesterday, just short of 50 people were in the garden tractor pull," he said Sunday.

Sorrell said donations from the proceeds of the event go to a food shelf in Mooers as well as Morrisonville Fire Department and Morrisonville EMS.

Additionally, attendees had the option to bring nonperishable food items in exchange for a reduced admission price.



Francis Geppner of Schuyler Falls has participated in the exhibition for about 20 years. 

He brought along his 1938 Fairbanks Morse gas engine "to show younger generations how they used to cut wood."

Geppner purchased the 6-horsepower engine, which runs at 700 rpm, 10 years ago from Henry Washburn, a collector in Wilmington.

Geppner said he enjoys "visiting with other older people" and demonstrating to younger generations "how things were done years ago."



Peru resident David Babbie, the association's vice president and president of the Babbie Rural & Farm Learning Museum, started showing his machines in the exhibition about 14 years ago.

His collection of gas engines and tractors, which he shares with his father, Leeward Babbie, numbers around 200. 

The two began restoring and buying old tractors in 2000, shortly after they both left the farming business.

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