Gear heads to gather in Clover Valley
Next weekend, for the fifth year, tractor enthusiasts will gather in Clover Valley to show off their heavy equipment.
Corlis West of Duluth Township and his neighbors first organized a tractor show in 1997, drawing dozens of tractors to Clover Valley – an informal community in the verifiable boonies, nine miles west of Two Harbors and 20 miles northeast of Duluth. After the 1998 show, however, planning for a third show fell through and the event went on an extended hiatus.
Then in 2012, recently retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and looking for a reason to show off his International tractors, West resurrected the Clover Valley Tractor Show, hosting it in his back field. It was small – just seven tractors showed up.
“After 2012, when we only had seven tractors, I thought, ‘This probably isn’t going to work,’” he said.
Not long after, he read an article in the News-Chronicle about the North Shore Tractor & Equipment Club, a new group formed by Allen Anderson of Silver Bay. Anderson mentioned that the club was planning to attend the 2013 Clover Valley Tractor Show, so West decided to host the event for his fellow tractor aficionados.
The club was true to its word. Many members rumbled in with their rigs, including Anderson, who had five tractors in tow. Anderson said the club currently has 35 members, with people coming from as far as Grand Marais and Duluth to attend monthly meetings.
“Once we had the first showing at the county fair (in 2012), a tremendous amount of people asked for more information. We’re just getting more and more interest,” Anderson said.
On Wednesday, he had just returned from a tractor show in Iowa. Anderson said much of his summer is dedicated to tractor shows. The North Shore club plans to show tractors at the Lake County Fair, Bay Days and Heritage Days. Members will also be hosting a second annual fundraising ride in September for the Smile Foundation, which provides medical care for children with cleft palates or other facial deformities.
“He’s a good guy to know,” West said of Anderson. “He seems like a hub of networking for these kinds of things.”
Tractor lovers are welcomed from all over the area for the show. Last year, Don Olson of Grand Marais brought his 1929 Coast Guard tractor to the show. The rare machine is outfitted with tracks instead of tires, and was used to push boats from beach to water. West said that most of the tractors from that time period were recycled were recycled for the World War II effort.
“There’s not too many that survived from that era,” he said.
This year, West said he’d like to attract at least 40 tractors to the two-day heavy metal celebration – especially high on his list of priorities is to get more locals to attend. Breakfast and lunch will be available for purchase to supplement the tractor talk, and West hopes to have some hay rides throughout the day. The highlight will be a tractor parade each day at 1 p.m. – but leave your lead foot at home.
“Everybody that’s there that wants to be in the tractor parade, they get on their tractor and we kind of ... putt-putt-putt around,” West said. “If you see a tractor coming, you have time to cross in front of it about three or four times before it gets to you.”
West said he looks forward to the tractor show’s continued growth. He plans to have some of his agricultural equipment on display, like his hay baler and rake, and hopes to add a more official agricultural category next year for participants. When it’s not on display, he uses the machinery to mow his fields and make hay, which he feeds to his sheep and gives to his neighbors.
“You drive around and you see all the fields that are mowed,” West said, indicating that a lot of his neighbors have farming equipment. He hopes to see some of those pieces show up in his back 40 next weekend.
“Hopefully people will come by to see it, bring their tractors and just hang out,” West said.
If you go
What: Clover Valley Tractor Show
When: June 28-29; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: West residence, 1598 West Knife River Rd. Two Harbors.
There will be hay rides, lunch items available for purchase and a tractor parade each day at 1 p.m.