Four-day tractor festival near Milford this weekend

Hickory Ridge Antique Tractor Club president Russell Geyer, left, assembles a homemade hand sanitizer dispenser with club member J.T. Robbins. (Submitted photo/Hickory Ridge Antique Tractor Club)

MILFORD — Organizers of the 2020 Hickory Ridge Antique Tractor Show are hoping hundreds of equipment enthusiasts will be pulled to the event outside Milford this weekend.

The free show, which begins Thursday morning and runs through noon Sunday, has been planned for 1,500 visitors.

“Last year, we had a rough count of 1,500 to 2,000 people for the whole three days,” said Jennifer Geyer, the Hickory Ridge Tractor Club’s secretary and treasurer. “This year, circumstances being what they are, I’m hoping for the same turnout.”

Ms. Geyer said she and her husband, Russell, the owner and president of the tractor club, will be following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to the best of their ability.

“This is private property, so as far as I understand, you’re allowed to have an outside gathering of 250 or less per property, and there are three parcels here,” she said, so “we’re allowed to have 750 at a time, according to the CDC guidelines.”

The couple has also been working with the Delaware Division of Public Health.

“They said that our plan is fine, and we discussed what the food vendors needed, so we assisted the food vendors in getting their permits,” Ms. Geyer said. “We did the entrances and the exits for (the vendors) to follow the additional guidelines.”

She said vendors will be more spaced out this year than in the past and that there will be hand-sanitizing stations located around the property.

Ms. Geyer said social distancing is strongly encouraged and that those who aren’t able to stay 6 feet away from those not in their immediate family are required to wear a mask.

“It’s an outdoor event, so right now, masks are not required (if) you social distance,” she said. “If you have a family of four and you’re standing with your family, you don’t need to wear a mask when you’re with your family, but if you’re in a bigger group and you’re not family with everyone, there you should probably wear a mask.”

The couple billed the event as family-oriented. It will feature pedal tractor pulls, two parades and a concert Saturday night.

Mr. Geyer, who owns 37 tractors built between 1936 and 1987, said the event first began in 1981.

“When I was a kid, I grew up showing tractors on this property. In 2000, the show stopped, and then, (the property) came up for sale in 2017,” he said. “Me and my wife bought the property and decided to bring the show back here. We want to keep it going for the kids.”

The show’s first year back was 2019.

The proceeds from this year’s event will go to Autism Delaware, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness around the condition. This year, the first day of the event is Autism Day, when only relatively quiet equipment will run, so those with sensory-processing disorders can remain comfortable.

“We have signs posted that say, ‘Headphone Zone,’ so that way, children have the opportunity to put their noise-canceling headphones on and are able to see these things run,” Ms. Geyer said. “We have a couple of sponsors who have donated supplies like noise-canceling headphones to be able to hand them out to any families that might not have them.”

She and Mr. Geyer take pride in their event being family friendly, and they wanted to expand that to families who have members with special needs.

“I like to see the kids smiling and enjoying themselves,” Mr. Geyer said. “We just want people to be happy and enjoy themselves.”

The event is happening at 7096 Big Stone Beach Road, north of Milford. Each day of the festival begins at 8:30 a.m. with a flag-raising and runs until the evening, except Sunday when the festival closes after the lawnmower games at noon.

With the exception of the goods peddled by vendors, the entire event is free.