As more than 25,000 visitors descend upon Sedalia over the next three days, the city’s population will become temporarily diverse, as those visitors come from all four corners of the country as well as across the globe.
Visitors for the 26th annual International Collectors Club Red Power Round Up on the Missouri State Fairgrounds hail from New York, Florida, California, Texas and Washington, plus attendees have flown in from as far as New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany and Great Britain. Randy Bodine and seven of his family members from Auburn, Ala., didn’t have to fly across the pond, but they did drive 860 miles for what he calls a family reunion.
Bodine, who is president of the Alabama chapter of ICC, said he’s been coming to the event for about 20 years, and he comes as both a farmer and a tractor collector. The seventh generation farmer said owning International Harvester tractors is a family tradition.
“My great-granddaddy actually made the transition from mules to tractors. When he made that transition, there was a International Harvester dealer in Gunnersville, Ala., and when he bought his first tractor it was an International Harvester tractor. That has continued on through the generations in the Bodine family, and we’re an all IH family,” Bodine said.
“… My dad was the largest cotton farmer in Marshall County in north Alabama, and he had quite a number of International Harvester tractors,” he continued. “… Then all of a sudden, 20 years ago, this started to become a hobby. People started restoring old antique tractors just like they’d been doing old antique cars for years. They started having these tractors shows, restoring and showing. We got word of it, and our dad had 19 Farmall tractors that he and my granddad farmed with. We tell everybody that we were International Harvester collectors and we didn’t know it because we had a barn full of red tractors.”
Bodine said his family started by showing at small county shows, and then “climbed the ladder” to the national show. He said he’s a “tractor enthusiast,” but he really comes for the friends he’s made over the years.
“I’m convinced that if you watch, it really has nothing to do with the tractors. It has to do with the people,” he said. “They use the tractors as a reason and excuse to get together.”
On Wednesday, Bodine and his family, along with other chapter members from southern states, continued their tradition of hosting a “watermelon cut” at their tents near the Sheep Pavilion. At 2 p.m. each day of the event, they serve watermelon brought up from the south to attendees.
“We love to see the red tractors and we love the parts and pieces and everything that goes along with it, but that’s what it comes down to — fellowship,” Bodine said.
In addition to the tractor parades and swap meets, Bodine said part of the Red Power experience includes groups going out to dinner in the host city each night, exploring what the city, and other parts of the host state, has to offer. According to Bodine, Red Power has about a $15 million economic impact on the host city.
While at Red Power Round Up, Bodine and his family exhibits tractors, and he said each year they try to bring along the featured tractor, if they have it in their collection. This year’s feature is the gray tractor. In years past Bodine has been a vendor, and they frequently bring extra antique parts to sell and use at swap meets.
“You buy as much as you sell most of the time, and you go home with stuff you need that you didn’t have,” he said.
Bodine said he has “tractor buddies” in almost every state, and several from across the globe. Eight Bodine family members are in Sedalia this week, ranging from Bodine’s 80-year-old mother to his 5-year-old nephew, Logan. While Red Power Round Up has only completed its first day in Sedalia, Bodine said he has enjoyed his time in the State Fair City.
“The Missouri chapter has done an excellent job here, and the fairgrounds are wonderful,” he said. “I have thouroughly enjoyed all the old buildings that are here and the history that is part of the fairgrounds, so they’ve really stepped up and done a wonderful job.”