Crowd goes country for Turin's 18th annual event
By ALEX MCRAE
Tuxedos are more common than traffic jams in Turin, but once each year, cars and people are bumper-to-bumper along Hwy. 16 as they flock to the Turin Antique Tractor Parade.
The 18th annual event—which also includes a world-class tractor pull competition—was no exception. And it was easy to tell this was strictly a day to sit back, enjoy good times and good friends, and for a moment, remember that not so long ago tractors weren’t a curiosity in Coweta, but a means of making a living.
The crowd ranged from infants in strollers to old-timers who might have driven the parade tractors when they were new to a teenage couple featuring a guy in a John Deere cap and a girl in a short skirt and high-rise wedge pumps. Showy outfits or attitudes were prohibited. The mood was strictly country casual and the crowd wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Even three young ladies who might have spent a normal Saturday texting each other from various shopping venues were thrilled to be marinating in diesel fumes, dust and smoke from barbecue cookers.
(To view or purchase photos from the Parade, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Events / Turin for the Photo Gallery.)
Ashley Kirk, Kaydin Johnson and Sarah Alice Miller, whose family’s Turin roots go back for generations, moved like a single person through the crowd, pausing only to compare notes and smile at the action. The ladies are tractor parade veterans.
“I’ve been coming for years,” said Sarah Alice. “It’s so much fun and we love doing it. I can’t imagine not being here.”
Senoia residents Bob Tinsley and Frank Harris are veterans of even more Turin events. Both were there again for the same reason. Almost.
“I come about every year,” Tinsley said. “I’m here for the fellowship and to talk to folks and catch up with some old friends. I enjoy it.”
Harris, now in his eighties, agreed that he enjoyed mixing and mingling with old friends, but with a gleam in his eye, admitted he had another agenda. “I’m looking for a new girlfriend,” he said as he tried to suppress a laugh. “One with a million dollars.”
Reuben Williams, the parade’s grand marshal, presided over a rolling river of tractors of all shapes and sizes, from Fords, to Farmalls to John Deeres and the occasional Allis-Chalmers.
Some of the tractors were piloted by a lone driver, but most carried extra people on the tractor or in buggies, carts or trailers filled with everything from small groups of children to what looked like rolling family reunions.
It was not uncommon to see fathers and daughters riding together, or grandfathers and grandchildren. Drivers were young and old and came in all shapes, sizes and sexes. A crowd favorite was the tractor featuring two young ladies with bright bows in their hair.
In addition to the parade and tractor pull competition, vendors representing local organizations were on hand selling drinks, baked goods, barbecue and everything else to raise money for their organizations.
Wilmirth Wood said she had been baking for three days to put together the spread of treats she and her daughter, Joyce Wood, were selling to benefit the Order of the Eastern Star.
Wilmirth said it was a lot of work, but worth the effort. “This is my third year and we always have a great time,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event.”
Joyce Wood agreed, saying “This is a great event and it’s a great way to raise funds for our benevolent organization. I’m glad we’re here.”
Antique tractors were on display and each drew a crowd of farm aficionados. Myrle Parrott from Palmetto said he was glad to be there and really admired the 1953 Ford Jubilee tractor being displayed by Tommy Davis from Tyrone.
“This thing looks great,” Parrott said. “You don’t see these very often.”
By the time the parade ended, spectators were beginning to fill the grandstands overlooking the tractor pull course. Heavy socializing continued, but at least one group of guys in jeans, t-shirts and caps representing every farm product imaginable was strictly business.
As the competition tractors were being weighed, the boys couldn’t take their eyes off the orange, green, red and blue monsters. And for a solid minute, a full sixty seconds, 14 teenage boys sitting on two rows of bleachers didn’t reach for a single smart phone to make or take a call or text. Not one.
Try to find that kind of fan dedication at a rock concert.