HOPEWELL — Since the middle of last week, an otherwise unimposing stretch off Routes 5&20 has been transformed into a sea of John Deere green and International Harvester red, with clouds of dust and steam and enough cast iron to build a bridge over Lake Ontario.
Saturday was the last day of the 50th anniversary Pageant of Steam, which also marked its 39th year at its own grounds on Gehan Road. It began Aug. 11.
Among the hundreds of tractors featured at the events, this year focused on International Harvesters, an Illinois-based tractor company that saw its heyday in the mid-20th century, manufacturing the Farmall model of tractor.
Greg Hansen, president of the New York chapter of the International Harvester Collectors Club, said he and his organization had been asked to attend the event by its organizers, the New York Steam Engine Association.
Hansen, a Rensselaer County native, spent a week in Hopewell preparing and enjoying the festivities.
The Collectors Club regularly attends events like tractor pulls, shows and even Empire Farm Days, but Hansen said members were impressed by the sheer size of the Pageant of Steam.
“It’s a terrific show,” Hansen said. “There’s a huge amount of equipment. There’s really nice restored stuff down to original things. Quite a variety, I guess you could say.”
Hansen was particularly impressed by the steam-powered equipment.
“It’s amazing,” Hansen said. “It comes from all over New York, as well as other places.”
Mike and Linda Gilbert of Hemlock, Livingston County, said this was the first time they made the trip to the Pageant of Steam.
Mike Gilbert said he rebuilds antique lawn tractors as a hobby and had a friend who works on steam engines mention the pageant to him. He struck a deal with his wife to come.
“I’m surprised how big it is. I told her we could go dress shopping if we went to the steam pageant,” he said. “I don’t mind.”
“My kids used to go to tractor pulls, so I’m familiar with the crowd and everything,” Linda Gilbert said. “It brought back memories.”
The tractor pulls featured at the pageant included a garden tractor pull, a dead weight tractor pull, a ladies’ powder puff tractor pull and a Western New York Pro Farm tractor pull.
Other events included live chainsaw carvings, demonstrations of antique construction equipment and a working display of steam equipment in the NYSEA’s steam building.
Throughout the four days, there were displays of antique vehicles powered by steam, kerosene and gasoline — even a display of antique Maytag washing machines.
Next year’s pageant is scheduled for Aug. 10 to 13 and will feature Minneapolis Moline tractors.
For more information, visit www.pageantof steam.org.INt