WHAT: Lamar Hays Antique Tractor Show
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 24; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
GETTING THERE: Take I-20 to exit 98. Go south on Ga. Highway 11. At Hays Tractor, turn left on Ga. Highway 213. Go approximately 1 mile. Tractor show will be on the right.
LEARN MORE: Call (770) 786-3334
In tribute to Mansfield icon Lamar B. Hays and farmers everywhere, the Mansfield Masonic Lodge will host the inaugural Lamar Hays Antique Tractor Show on Sept. 24.
The all-day event, to be located on Highway 213 next to Beaver Park, will feature local musicians like Steve Biggers, the Doc & Rhonda Band and a variety of activities including a tractor parade, a barrel tractor race and a blind tractor race. Local vendors and business will also be present to offer concessions and locally made items like metal and glass yard art.
Proceeds from the event will help fund several of the Masonic Lodge’s charities, including Children’s Home in Macon, Alzheimer’s Foundation and other local efforts.
“The community has been very generous to the lodge,” said co-organizer Ray Sikes. “This is a way for the community to get involved and allow other businesses to raise funds as well.”
For the tractor parade, the Lodge and Hays Tractor teamed up to spread the word of the show to a number of tractor clubs across the country, hoping to lure as many as 100 tractors.
“When a man puts in long hours to restore their tractor to its original beauty, it becomes a showpiece,” said Hays Tractor Manager Sheila Massey, who has an International Cub tractor she is rebuilding. “You want to be proud and show off your work. These guys in the tractor clubs take this very seriously. They eat, drink, think and breathe tractors.”
In the typical American car culture, there are ‘Ford men’ and ‘Chevy men.’ Similarly, in the tractor world, there are two types of “tractor men”: the International Harvester and the John Deere. Telling one to drive the other can sometimes be borderline insulting.
“A lot of this comes from heritage,” said Billy Dawkins, one of the co-organizers of the show and a John Deere fan. “Sheila (Massey), for instance, grew up with Farmalls and International Harvesters. My wife’s daddy grew up working with John Deere equipment, like his father before him.”
Hays Tractor, originally known as Benton Brothers, had been a Mansfield staple since 1939. Lee Hays, an employee at Benton Brothers, bought the business in 1951 and renamed it Hays Truck and Tractor. Hays retired in 1973, allowing his son Lamar to take over the business. Under Lamar B. Hays the company became and remains Hays Tractor and Equipment Inc.
Hays was the former chief of the Mansfield Volunteer Fire Department and served many years as a city councilman of Mansfield. After he passed in 2008, Sen. John Douglas and Rep. Doug Holt led efforts to name a portion of Ga. Highway 11 the "Lamar B. Hays Memorial Highway" in his honor. It runs through Mansfield past Hays Tractor.
With Massey nest in line to become the owner of the company in December, she will be the third generation owner of Hays Tractor.
“We would sit in the office and I would quiz my daddy on tractor parts,” recalled Massey. “I would ask, ‘what is the part number for a carburetor on a Farmall Cub?’ If you told him it was an International Harvester then he would name the number instantly.
“That’s just how he was. He grew up in this business and could tell you every part number on a given tractor.”
“This is a big tribute to the farmers of this country,” said Dawkins. “The farmers are the ones who helped made this nation. They are the ones who helped put food on the table.”
Admission is free to the public. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. Tractors will be judged throughout the day, with a best in show awarded at the end of the event.
“When you see these tractors, you will be in awe of all the hard work and love that was put into them,” said Massey.