BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
CREEDS — A nostalgia for the sight of freshly turned soil, an interest in retro machinery and a willingness to wear red bib overalls can drive antique tractor enthusiasts – and local tractor buffs will come together for a Plow Day today at Bonney Bright’s Creeds farm.
Organizers believe the noncompetitive event will include about 30 antique tractors. Bright and Ashton Lewis, working with Bright to organize it, expect that the participants will plow about 50 to 100 acres that day. The Albemarle Antique Power Association, which includes members from Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and eastern North Carolina, is also helping to coordinate it.
Plowing events are popular in the Midwest, but this is probably the first one ever held in Virginia Beach, according to Lewis and Bright, who have attended similar events elsewhere.
“It’s watching that dirt turn over,” said Bright. “And plowing brings birds and gulls. The gulls come from miles away because turning over the soil exposes worms.”
Nostalgia, and the desire just to have fun, also figure into it. Bill Jennings, a member of the Albemarle Antique Power Association, said that it’s like playtime for adults.
“We’re just a bunch of overgrown children” Jennings said.
“It’s old people reminiscing about how things used to be,” Lewis said.
Traditional plowing has decreased in the last five or 10 years in favor of vertical tillage, which uses blades that break the soil on a vertical plane, thereby disturbing less soil. This increases soil conservation and requires less fuel than traditional plowing, Bright said.
Still, there’s something about freshly turned soil that attracts not only veteran farmers but the very young. These events attract youth as young as 16, Lewis said.
A tractor generally has to be 25 years old to be considered an antique, and most of the tractors will range from 1950 to 1980 models. Jennings plans to bring his 1949 Farmall Model M, which was owned by his father, a Chesapeake farmer.
Jennings, who now lives in Elm City, N.C, owns three antique tractors and has attended Plow Days in the Deep South and Midwest. He’s probably best known for the red bib overalls that have earned him the nickname “Red Bibs Bill,” and he’s the subject of several YouTube videos that are posted under that name.
Lewis attended his first Plow Day in 2016 and says that he was “hooked.”
“I loved farming, and I loved the mechanical side of it,” Lewis said.
Lewis is particularly partial to his John Deere 1976 Model 6030, a massive tractor that he describes as “mean and tough.”
Lewis, who has farmed since 1981, is living out a dream with this 200-horsepower tractor. He had a smaller model when he farmed, but he always wanted to own a Model 6030.
“I always wanted one because Bonnie had two,” he said.
Bright also owns several antique tractors, including his first one, a 1957 Ford 601 Workmaster, which he bought in 1959. They can be bought online or at auctions, he said, but many of them are passed down from family members.
The event today, the rain date from last weekend, will be held at 5513 Buzzard Neck Road, will begin at 9 a.m. and run until about 3:30 p.m., Bright and Lewis said.
There is no fee for spectators. Malbon’s BBQ Catering will provide food.
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