Y.A.T.E.S. event celebrates farming heritage

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
Howard Leach, of Dresden, teaching a crew of Mennonite boys during the hay threshing demonstration.

BENTON – After a hiatus in 2020, the Yates Antique Tractor & Engine Society (Y.A.T.E.S.) held their 16th annual celebration of America’s farming heritage Sept. 3 and 4 on Rte. 14A in Benton. And that year off didn’t dampen the exhibitors’ enthusiasm one bit. Organizers say there were more machines on display this year than ever.

Small engine enthusiasts come from far and wide to show how hit-and-miss engines powered a lot of labor-saving equipment before the days of rural electrification.

Since 2005, Y.A.T.E.S has been showing a myriad of machines, presenting working displays of equipment doing the jobs they used to do on farms in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Brothers Don & Steve Rapalee's incredibly detailed, working, scale model displays are annual favorite.

Featuring a wealth of all makes and models, the displays included antique tractors and engines, antique cars and trucks, threshing and baling demonstrations, a working buzz saw and shingle mill, both horse- and tractor-drawn antique implements, hand and household tools, plus scale model and toy displays with daily demonstrations.

Two-time exhibitor Dave Christensen, of Canandaigua (the author's brother), brought the pride of his collection; the 1934 John Deere A he restored himself after it spent decades derelict in a hedgerow.

With over 200 current members, Y.A.T.E.S. welcomes new members and exhibitors all year long. For membership information or to register your piece of farming history to exhibit in next year's show, contact Y.A.T.E.S. President Bob Spink at 585-301-6060, or Vice President Carlton Voak at 585-526-5911. Dues are just $5 per year for individuals or $8 for a family.