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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

‘They’re one with the machine’: Spokane fair’s antique tractor pull brings enthusiasts together

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 13, 2019, 7:42 p.m.

Mike Godbout works the clutch and the throttle on his restored 1947 John Deere BR tractor to try and pull 5450 pounds during the Antique Tractor Pull event  Friday afternoon at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The event was presented by the Inland Empire Steam and Gas Buffs. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Mike Godbout works the clutch and the throttle on his restored 1947 John Deere BR tractor to try and pull 5450 pounds during the Antique Tractor Pull event Friday afternoon at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The event was presented by the Inland Empire Steam and Gas Buffs. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

”Come on, come on, come on!” Mike Godbout bellowed from his tractor on Friday afternoon as he pulled thousands of pounds over the finish line in the antique tractor pull at the Spokane County Interestate Fair.

When the red flag waved signaling he’d completed the round, he ripped off his hat, stood up and took a bow.

This was Godbout’s first year competing in the antique tractor pull put on by the Inland Empire Steam and Gas Buffs.

The tractors are judged by how much weight each tractor pulls, relative to how much each tractorweighs Godbout pulled 124% of his 1947 John Deer model BR’s weight.

“Even though I have almost the smallest tractor, I’m in the lead,” Godbout said.

He also has a very rare model of tractor, one of only 3,000 ever made.

He started working on tractors, he said, “because I was priced out of the classic cars.”

Godbout and a friend worked on the tractor he showed this weekend for three and a half years.

“I got a ribbon,” Godbout said. “I haven’t got a one of those since I was five.”

The Inland Empire Steam and Gas Buffs club has over 120 members and runs the antique tractor section at the Interstate Fair.

Fellow first-year tractor enthusiast Rose Larson joined the group to learn about the history of antique tractors and connect with a new community.

“I’m a history buff, and that’s why I’m here pressing my nose against the window,” Larson said, standing with her nose pressed against the back of the chain linked bleachers and hands gripping the fence.

For Larson, working at the general store run by the club is a way to get in touch with her roots of using what you have, making do and finding value in everything.

“I have it in my ancestry not to waste anything,” Larson said. “I was born with the genetics to reuse and recycle.”

Larson also has spent the last week and a half at the fair learning about the history and connection people have with their tractors.

“I can see the drivers,” she said of the competition. “If they’re one with the machine, it will do more than it’s supposed to.”

Bob Bushnell has been a member of the club for over 20 years.

“It’s just a bunch of old guys that have old tractors,” Bushnell said.

Bushnell grew up on a ranch and said a lot of people in the club have roots in the agriculture industry.

For Bushnell, the club not only provides community but a hobby. He owns seven vintage tractors and three old caterpillars, a type of farm equipment with tracks instead of tires. He hopes to pass on a love for vintage tractors to the next generation.

“The goal is to try and get younger members,” Bushnell said.

Terry Folsom donned overalls and a blue-and-white striped conductor-style hat as he drove his custom stagecoach through the antique tractor area.

Folsom has been in the club for 10 years and has built some unique tractors since.

“I’ve always been mechanical,” Folsom said.

His stagecoach is made out of a tractor cab and pulled by a bright yellow Lamborghini caterpillar from the late 1970s.

He specialty is taking an old, empty tractor and building an engine himself.

On Friday, Folsom drove his tractors back and forth to the showing area. But those trips sometimes took a little longer than normal, with people young and old stopping to ask questions about his tractor collection.

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