New England John Deere Expo returns to area

It’s just down the road a piece, this weekend. The New England John Deere Expo returns, Aug. 22-24, to the Hillsborough County 4-H Youth Center, an agricultural activities center located at 15 Hilldale Lane, Route 13, in New Boston.

The event is sponsored by the Northeast Two-Cylinder Tractor Club and the Hillsborough 4-H Club. Antique John Deere farm tractors will be showcased to herald the machinery whose earliest ancestor was a polished-steel plow designed in 1837 by John Deere, an inventor and blacksmith from Illinois.

Food, vendors, games, exhibits, demonstrations and camping opportunities are sure to attract devotees. The addition this year of machines from International, Farmall and McCormick-Deering is expected to delight onlookers.

Bob Hayden, a Hollis resident who since 1984 has been a board member of the Hillsborough County Youth Center Foundation, said the expo is one not to be missed. The nonprofit foundation owns the 100 or so acres that is the venue for the New England John Deere Expo.

Hayden said the property serves as a home for the tractor expos and other gatherings. It is the venue for the Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair, Sept. 5-7, and events including blues festivals, barn dances, 4-H functions, family reunions, weddings, corporate events and more.

“We try to accommodate as many groups as we can to offset expenses,” Hayden said. “The primary focus is maintaining a facility for the kids to use for programs that teach about animals, farming and agriculture.”

The Northeast Two-Cylinder Club boasts some 125 members from many towns. It was founded to promote the preservation and restoration of old-time John Deere two-cylinder tractors, models that were the gold standard of farming before engine updates and other, more modern components, were added.

Hayden and his son, Chris, own a trio of the two-cylinder workhorses – a 1931 model, a 1942 and a 1944. He said that the oldest is used almost every day on the family’s farm, one devoted mostly to sheep and goats.

“Not long ago, there was a John Deere that was brought up from Florida and one from Arizona,” Hayden said. “We regularly have antique tractors from the early 1920s through the 1950s.”

Tom Miller, who was raised in Amherst and graduated from Milford High School, is a member of the Northeast Two-
Cylinder Tractor Club. He said the show is the largest of its kind in New England. Mike Chase, a Brookline resident who is first vice-chair of the Hillsborough County Youth Center Foundation, concurred and deemed the event one not to miss.

“You don’t have to own tractors to enjoy the event,” Miller said. “We have various events, demonstrations, seminars, food, fun and activities that appeal to kids and adults alike.”

Miller said that people today are so removed from the old ways of farming that seeing the tractors in person and seeing what other vintage machines do is a new experience for many.

“Take hay, for instance,” Miller said. “Today, we have big, round bales. Back in the 1930s, it wasn’t that way. They harvested by hand with pitch forks and put the hay into a hay press that pressed it into bales that were tied by hand. We’ll have some of those demonstrations at the show.”

There, too, will be a shingle-making mill powered by a John Deere tractor engine, a corn chopper from the 1930s, old cord-wood saws from the 1930s and other rarely exhibited implements.

Miller added that the tractor games are a big attraction. Put on a hardhat topped with a plate filled with water. Mount your tractor. Now, drive it through an obstacle course and dismount without spilling any water. Time and water loss in the Water on the Brain game are the deciding factors in securing a victory.

Bedford’s Allan Swenson, whose farm on Wallace Road features acres of corn and other edibles, shares many of the farm’s joys with his wife, Barbara, and his daughter, Karen. The family has been ensconced there since around 1959. Their farm stand is well-visited as folks hanker after freshly picked corn, sunflowers and other seasonal delights.

A John Deere four-row corn planting machine, purchased in the late 1960s, is used to plant the corn at the Swenson farm, one whose landmark silo makes the homestead easy to find.

“I had a two-row Massi Harris corn planter with corn plates (that released corn seeds of a certain size),” Swenson said. “It took too long. Then, John Deere came out with this corn planter that didn’t have those corn plates.”

Karen, a masterful gardener in her own rite, explained that the plate-less model accommodated the dispersal of seeds of any size, as various varieties of corn have differently sized seeds. Her dad added that he used to plant 100 acres of silage corn, the type fed to cattle.

Local fans of John Deere logo products sometimes patronize the Tractor Supply Co., 515 Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack. Tractor buyers tend to visit the region’s authorized dealer, Nashua Outdoor Power Equipment. The firm is a major sponsor of the expo.

Merrimack’s Bill Footer said he owns a John Deere lawn tractor and a Farmall Cub.

“I’ve had one for 30 years, “ Footer said. “I wore the first one out, so I went out and bought another one.”

Brian Hawkins, a Tractor Supply Co. associate and a resident of Milford, is a longtime John Deere tractor aficionado. He said the level of loyalty of those who admire the brand is remarkable.

“When you get someone that likes John Deere, they love John Deere,” Hawkins said. “They are dedicated to their John Deere. Customers are loyal to the products. We sell a lot of the John Deere toys and people come here especially for them.”

Hawkins pointed out some of the John Deere tractor replicas, mostly made of metal or heavy-
duty plastic. Nearby, a display of baby booties, children’s socks, ladies T-shirts and apparel for men bear the company’s logo.

Activities at the expo include pedal tractor games for kids, a farm animal petting zoo, a tractor parade, a silent auction and a raffle with dozens of prizes. A pig roast, spaghetti supper and chicken barbecue are scheduled.

The New England John Deere Expo opens Friday, Aug. 22, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 24. Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. There is ample free parking, children under 12 are admitted free and others pay $5 to enter the accessible grounds.

For more information, visit online:, visit Facebook: newenglandjohn
deereexpo, or call 487-3883.