Beulah Tractor Run 2014

The second Saturday of any September is the set date for the small village show here in Beulah land, Powys.  The usual cultural competitions and agricultural exhibits – such as children’s paintings, pots of jams, best set of three onions, best set of three carrots, best bale of hay, longest thistle, reddest raddish, a perfect pom-pom dahlia and a huge number of sheep and pony classes which leave me utterly confused – and the ‘Trotting Races’ make up the biggest attractions but there is a secret section which has been quietly growing, unnoticed by most of those who attend.  The surreptitious Tractor Run has gained a formidable reputation amongst the hard-seat  fume loving brigade of the local classic tractor owners.

This year saw another gathering of many old faithful friends – though the Llandovery brigade were absent, sunning themselves in Cyprus apparently (or maybe sussing out the potential for timber extraction amongst the famous Lawson Cyprus Firs…)  – and just a few more new ones, each year one or two trickle in, attracted by the charm of the countryside we assault and the excellent reward of the ‘show-special’ lunch at the Trout Inn of sausage and chips !

Fergie Fach at Beulah show 2014

The first prize went to this rather nice Fergie TED owned by Mal from Llanwrtyd Wells.

Ten tractors set out on the no-too-long cross country ride, leaving just a few back at the showground to mark our presence.  My contribution, as Steward of the Vintage section, is to organise the run and make sure everyone gets signed in and receives their Cracker-Jack pencils or whatever else it is the Secretary has gotten for a reward.  Unfortunately I don’t normally get to drive a tractor around my chosen route as I have to drive an escort vehicle which is equipped for recovery and carries a certain amount of water in case of over-heating…

Beulah Tractors 2014

Fords and Fordsons on the cross country run

There is a great deal of enjoyment and camaraderie amongst those who take part and even though they all know each other well, the day is full of chatter and discourse on the finer points – or lack of ! – of one or other of the tractors on show.

Beulah Tractors on stop

“Are you sure this is the right end?” Deeply mechanical and deadly serious runs the conversation at each stopping point.

This year we took advantage of the long dry spell and drove a cross-country route along the famous Drover road past Cefn Cardis and on up to the little known lake that hides amongst the hills of the Llwyn Madoc estate.  There we halted and enjoyed the views out over Mynydd Eppynt and north towards Drygarn.  It was new to many and full of old memories for others but everyone had a broad smile which is all I can ask.

Fordsons on Beulah Tractor run 2014

Circle the Fordsons on the summit.

Dexta at Beulah Tractor run 2014

Shane from Llanwrtyd never stops smiling when he’s on that damn Dexta !  It came a worthy second.

MF 35 Beulah 2014

There were some other tractors besides Fords !!

Power Major at Beulah

Deryl Jones of Llanwrtyd, a local boy who returns each year with his very fine Fordson, a third place this year but a winner in my eyes – and his no doubt !

The mainstay of the Classic tractor sots in this area are the blue machines of Ford and Fordson, the Majors and Dextas dominate but there are one or two other makes that creep in.  Fergie Fachs in the shape of either the TED or TEF are also common and the one which rode the course was actually chosen by the judge as Best Tractor this year.  Massey Ferguson 35s are another popular small tractor and two were present.  One of course was displayed by Miss Carolina who proudly drove her MF35 3 cylinder around the course with a fixed smile on her beaming face.  It needs to be mentioned that the tractor was only ‘put together’ the day before having been brought home from the restorers shed a mere 48 hours earlier.  The Friday prior to the show was a day of frantic finishing touches such as applying the decals, fitting a new exhaust – which miraculously arrived in the midday post – and discovering all sorts of leaks and squeaks !

Massey 35 with period muck-spreader

She smiled all the way around, though thankfully the period Massey Ferguson muck-spreader remained in the show field… though in truth it attracted more attention than either the tractor or driver !!

On the way around the cross-country course we happened upon the very man responsible for the restoration, one Leslie Smith of Llandrindod Wells, who was sitting in his land rover having a quiet lunch in a remote hillside spot (he was working up there !).  His face lit up when suddenly his world was full of classic tractors …

The two famous Radnorians discuss the finer points of tractor life ... Brinley Jones from Newbridge-on-Wye and Les Smith from Llandrindod - a picture speaks a thousand words ...

The two famous Radnorians discuss the finer points of tractor life … Brinley Jones from Newbridge-on-Wye and Les Smith from Llandrindod – a picture speaks a thousand words …

Les Smith and Whitney Brown with the MF35

‘Hers n His’ – proud restorer and proud owner of the MF35, Les and Whitney re-united high in the hills of Beulah.

It is a matter of some wonder to me that anyone, least of all those whose job it is to drive one at work, wants to spend a Saturday afternoon (or Sunday morning !) driving a high octane pollutant which jars and bumps every bone in the torso below belly-button height, but they do; oh yes, they do !

Beulah Tractors on the skyline

It is not the case that we were out until dusk, it just looks that way as we broach the skyline.

An hour or so of bumping along the ancient Drover road and stopping here and there to chat and look, happy in the company of  like-minded folk from all sorts of backgrounds is as good a way of generating community cohesion as any I know.  Many of us only meet on that second Saturday in September but we greet like old friends and probably mutter something to the effect that “time flies” !

Tractor over the moor at Beulah 2014

Some beautiful remote countryside is best enjoyed behind the blue hue of diesel exhaust, wouldn’t you agree ?

We descended the old stone road that leads down from the hill to cross the Cnyffiad at Tyncwm and re-joined the Beulah to Abergwesyn road to head back to the village and lunch at the Trout before returning to the display line at the show field.

Beulah Show tractor display

Back to the show field for some judging and just a little more chat, oh yes, and a beer or two.

I get a little embarrassed each year by the seeming indifference of the show-goers of Beulah who pay no interest to the tractors or those that bother to bring them, it is left to one or two local ‘old boys’ to make the effort of the exhibitors feel worthwhile.  It is a difficult matter for me but I know those who turn up with their tractors enjoy their day out and come willingly for their own enjoyment.  But on the horizon is a potential problem; firstly the whole future of the show is jeopardised by the increasing cost of hosting it, the marquee hire and all the costs associated with prizes, trotting, publicity and insurance.  It may just be that 2014 is a pivotal year in the 80 odd years of the shows existence.  In addition and partly in response to the financial issues, there are suggestions being mooted that those who bring tractors to display should actually have to pay to do so.  That is a big change as all other shows, vintage or agricultural, rely on the freely given (and not inexpensive for those participating) attendance of such displays to add attractions and thus enhance the overall show appeal which in turn, hopefully, increases the numbers who pay at the gate.  I know from my own point of view that I have had to drastically reduce the number of shows that I attend each year with my display of Agricultural Bygones.  With the cost of fuel to get to the shows plus the time it takes to clean and load items for display and then pack away on return it is not a cheap activity nor is it an easy one.  I thoroughly enjoy the shows I attend but I have to be sure it is enjoyment worth the financial cost of doing so.  It is very doubtful that if I had to add to that cost by paying to enter the show that I would attend any.  There will be some interesting discussions over the next twelve months for sure.

Meanwhile, with another long tiring day over we all headed for home, some of us still smiling at the very joy of sitting on a hard seat breathing yet more carbon monoxide …

MF35 with muck spreader in tow

After nearly 8 hours in the hard saddle this bronco breaking Carolina gal is still as happy as a ‘clam’ (I know, but that’s what they say !)

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One Response to “Beulah Tractor Run 2014”

  1. Whitney Brown Says:

    I ❤ MY TRACTOR.

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