They came from different states and foreign countries, but they shared a common bond — a love for antique farm equipment painted in the iconic International Harvester red.
Nearly 40,000 spectators and antique tractor enthusiasts walked through the gates at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum June 13-16 for the 29th Red Power Round Up, the world’s largest showcase of International Harvester equipment and agriculture-related memorabilia.
“It’s a celebration of agriculture heritage,” said Randy Bodine, event coordinator and president of the Alabama International Harvesters Collector Club. “We had 800 to 1,000 tractors and other pieces of equipment displayed. When you look at these restored tractors, you can’t help but think about all the farmers who put in countless hours of work to provide the rest of us with food and fiber.”
This was Alabama’s first time to host the annual event and the farthest south it’s ever been held. For Bodine, who farms with his family in Marshall County, the event had to feature the South’s most distinctive crop — cotton.
“People who come here from northern states — they’ve never seen cotton growing,” said Bodine, who still owns an International Harvester one-row cotton picker, originally purchased by his father. “We think it’s been a huge draw because people want to see these old cotton pickers actually running.”
Cotton picking and ginning demonstrations were held twice daily at the round-up.
“Cotton is the main thing we came here to see because we just don’t have it where we’re from,” said Dan Nelson, who traveled 1,100 miles from South Dakota for the event. “I was raised on International equipment. My dad would put me on a tractor with a rake, and I’d be there all summer long until the snow started to fly. To this day, I still prefer spending an afternoon on a tractor pulling a two-bottom plow over anything else.”
Nelson said he owns a couple dozen tractors, with 20 fully restored.
“We’ve reached a point where an average person can’t work on a new tractor or implements because of the computer systems involved,” Nelson said. “But with old tractors, anybody can do the work. You can still find parts for tractors from the ‘20s and ‘30s.”
Red Power Round Up revved up June 13 with an antique tractor parade down Montgomery’s historic Dexter Avenue
The Alabama Farmers Federation was the presenting platinum sponsor for the event.