DUNLAP, Tenn. -- Six years ago, a group of buddies used to hang out in a field with their tractors and tell farming tales. Each year the group grew, and eventually the gathering turned into a full-blown festival.
Now the Sequatchie Valley Historical Agriculture Association's free Days of Yesteryear highlights old, restored and new tractors as well as engines and other pieces of farming equipment.
There were a variety of family friendly activities ranging from hay rides to demonstrations by wood workers and blacksmiths at this year's event, held Sunday.
"We figured after a year or two it would just dwindle down and go away," event volunteer Bill Gray said. "But it's just the opposite. It's grown every year."
This year's event showcased about 100 tractors and attracted people from Knoxville, Atlanta and other areas, he said. Old timers especially appreciate the tractors just as they are, without being dolled up, he said.
"People like learning about agriculture and how it used to be," he said. "We try to keep some of it alive."
For Ronnie Moore, of the Sequatchie Valley, the festival reminds him of his childhood.
"I love 'em," he said of the tractors. "I've been riding them since I was small. This is really neat. It sure beats a horse and wagon or a horse and buggy. That was rough."
Jimmy Priestley demonstrates how to use a one cylinder internal combustion engine to Bill Shaw at the Days of Yesteryear event held Sunday in Dunlap, Tenn. Staff photo by Corrina Sisk-Casson
Chattanooga resident David Nelson said he has 92 acres and farms his land all the time. He can't imagine having to hook equipment up to a mule to get the work done, he said.
"I don't know how long that would take you, but if you get on a tractor, you have it done in no time," he said. "That's how you feed so many people. That's what built this country."
In 1950, Jim Hatcher bought an Oliver 66 Row Crop tractor for his farm just outside of Franklin, Tenn. He put his son, Howard Hatcher, to work on the land and later the younger brothers helped.
Decades later, his grandson Mark Hatcher took the tractor to restore it, one of several restored antiques on display Sunday.
"I think it's worth it," he said. "It's priceless. I think about Grandpa. Somebody asked if I used it. I said 'no.' Every now and again, I go out to the barn and crank it up and just hug it a little big. Don't ask me to dig you out of a ditch with it."
Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap. Email her at email@example.com.