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Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007 01:29 am

Old iron

Farmers relieve the ‘50s in Rantoul

Andy Shireman on his way to the Half Century of Progress show.
Untitled Document Andy Shireman of Chapin came to the biennial Half Century of Progress ready for field work.      The event, held in Rantoul, was a lead-up to this week’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur — but 1957-style. This year’s show included field demonstrations, a new plowing record set by 48 Belgian horses pulling a specially created tillage tool, and a display of lots of old iron.      His 3010 John Deere diesel tractor — which pulled a Model 237 John Deere corn picker — in tow, Shireman headed to the field demonstrations. He knew that the picker was in good shape.      “The guy we bought the picker from two years ago was still using it to pick corn,” he says.      The Half Century show gave Shireman a chance to try out some of his antique tillage equipment in preparation for his own farm day, to be held at his Morgan County farm on Oct. 20. “We will be plowing and picking corn and harvesting beans, plus we will have a static display,” he says. “This is the first of what will be an annual event.”
     Charlie Shireman started his son out on farm equipment at an early age. “I was just a kid, and I’ve been running a tractor ever since,” the younger Shireman says.      Love of farming and old farm equipment is what brought Shireman and his group of friends, all members of the recently formed Western Illinois Tractor Club, to what has grown into a national event. “We brought three wagons and made five trips here,” he says.      Families from all over the United States and some international guests gathered to play in the dirt, watch the beautiful Belgians break a plowing record, and remember when.
Cindy Ladage of Virden is a regular contributor.
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