By Lora Scripps
Limestone County is full of rural wisdom. Most agree it’s a place where farming roots run deep and old-fashioned family fun is always welcome. That’s why each year in August, many that look forward to preserving the county’s farming heritage get together for a two-day event known as the Piney Chapel American Farm Heritage Days.
Organizers with the Piney Chapel Antique Engine and Tractor Association are already gearing up for the 21st annual event, which will take place Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3.
Piney Chapel American Farm Heritage Day organizers plan to offer the makings for a family-friendly festival including a 20-mile tractor ride, old-fashioned fun and games, toe-tapping music and more.
The event was named a Top 20 event in the Southeastern United States during the month of August by the Southeastern Tourism Society. One of the event’s organizers, Association President David Hargrove, said he couldn’t be prouder. “It’s a great event,” he said.
For years, many have considered the event one of the best antique engine shows in Alabama, offering the public an opportunity to see an array of farm equipment including gasoline and steam engines in action, horse-drawn equipment, antique tractors, cars and trucks and other farming memorabilia. This year’s show features un-styled John Deere tractors and engines.
The event is more than a tractor show offering a variety of vendors, old-fashioned concessions including pinto beans and cornbread and live music by Just Down the Road, Piney Creek Boys, Corey Elrod and The Hitchhikers. Live entertainment starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Other activities include a fast crank competition, slow races, chain in a box, a skillet throw for the ladies and a pedal pull for the kids.
20-mile tractor ride
A 20-mile tractor ride, sponsored by the Limestone County Farmers Federation, is planned for Friday, Aug. 2.
Ride participants will depart from festival grounds at 20147 Elkton Road, two miles north of Athens, at 10 a.m. Spectators can watch the tractor parade, which is open to all makes and models, as it leaves festival grounds along Piney Chapel Road to Alabama 127 and travel north to Alabama Forks. The ride will continue north to Hays Mill to the Richard Martin Trail (Rails to Trails) for a historic leg of the trip. The ride will cross the site where the Civil War Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle took place, arriving at the town of Elkmont for lunch provided by the Limestone County Cattlemen’s Association at the historic Elkmont Depot before returning to the show grounds at 1:30 p.m.
“The ride has sparked a lot of interest,” Hargrove said. “The purpose is to promote farm safety. We want to promote safety, not only on this ride, but at home and in the field, also.” A drivers’ meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Friday at the registration tent.
Participants must meet a number of requirements including drivers must be 16 years old, must maintain a minimum speed of 10 mph, must have a SMV emblem and fire extinguisher, and more. Wagons are allowed, but must have fire extinguisher, SMV emblem, safety chains, side boards, and proper seating. An adult must accompany children riding in wagons.
Piney Chapel Antique Farm Heritage Days
Gates open at 9 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 per person. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free. Parking is free.
“We are all looking forward to the event,” Hargrove said, adding they anticipate a large crowd. “Hoping the good Lord will give us some good weather.”
To find out more, contact David Hargrove at 256-431-6226, Allen Dement at 256-431-0619, Marvin Putman at 256-431-2316 or Mike Hodges at 256-206-5926.