There’s a story behind every John Deere.
With the Expo XI, the world’s largest antique two-cylinder John Deere show, coming up Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 11, 12 and 13, John Deere enthusiasts are polishing up their choice picks from wide and varying collections.
For Murray Kellogg, owner of Melody Acres in Macedon, the passion was born in 1969 when he bought his first John Deere lawn and garden tractor. He was living in Rochester and was more than tired of shoveling his long driveway. So he went to the only tractor retailer he knew of in the Henrietta area at the time — a John Deere dealer.
“I grew up on a farm, and I’d driven every make and model of tractor there was,” he said. “The real reason I bought a John Deere was a fluke ... but since then I only buy John Deere.”
Kellogg purchased one of John Deere’s custom color 112 series. The two-toned tractors came in base white with sunset orange, spruce blue, patio red or April yellow accents. The series was originally designed to for women with the idea that the ladies would be more inclined to use a John Deere that wasn’t the typical green. The series only lasted three years before the company dropped the idea.
“I wound up with a blue and white. I didn’t know what I had.”
Today the custom colors are rare and highly collectible. Kellogg has collected all four, including the especially rare sunset orange. But his prized possession is his blue and white, although it’s not the same one he purchased in 1969. He traded his first John Deere in 1978 for a John Deere 400 that had an enclosed cab. He still owns the 400, but as his passion and John Deere collection grew, he realized what he’d traded.
In 2005, Kellogg wrote an article about his collection and sent it with photos to LGT News magazine, a John Deere enthusiast publication he subscribed to. When he received the next edition, he was stunned to see his photo on the cover and more photos inside with his article. In the story, Kellogg expressed his regret about trading in his blue and white. Not long after the article came out, Kellogg received a call from a stranger who said he had a blue and white to sell and Kellogg and his wife, Susan Yara, traveled to Maine and bought it.
Today, Kellogg has about 20 John Deeres in his collection, including his oldest model — a 1955 40 series — a 1971 140 series, a 1965 3020 series and a 1965 110 series, and he uses most of them to help maintain his property. Each has been refurbished to like-new condition with the help of friends and fellow enthusiasts, Kellogg said, and he couldn’t have done it without them.
Page 2 of 2 - Alan LeClaire, of Marion, knows something of Kellogg’s passion. LeClaire has been collecting John Deere tractors since he was 20 years old.
“Ever since I got a John Deere, I’ve sold everything else,” LeClaire said. “Now I only have John Deere.”
He has one John Deere tractor he uses every day, he said. The thing about John Deere is they always increase in value, which is why the rest of John Deere tractors are an investment. But he also appreciates the mechanics of a Deere.
“I enjoy the sound, how easy it is to work with them,” LeClaire said. “I just enjoy using them. Look at the history of these tractors — I would like to take kids today back in time so they could appreciate them.”
His “pride and joy” is his 1936 B series with its original factory spoke wheels. He bought the large two-cylinder tractor to restore and use in parades. LeClaire said the Expo show is a wonderful thing for the area.
Organizers John and Cheryl Jensen of Seneca, Ontario County, started the show 11 years ago after attending a similar show in Idaho. Cheryl Jensen said they thought the show would be something positive for the entire region, highlighting all that upstate New York had to offer. Exhibitors come from all over the U.S. and even Canada with an average of 700 to 800 exhibits. This year’s event will feature a Waterloo Boy, a very rare, expensive, chain-driven John Deere tractor from the 1920s.
“There’s a distinctive sound of a John Deere tractor,” Cheryl Jensen said, describing the pop-pop sound the two cylinders make. “They used to call them ‘Johnny Poppers.’ When you have a John Deere, you know it.”
The show, held at the Steam Engine grounds, also includes tractor pulls, pedal tractor pulls, parades, craft vendors, souvenirs, food, toys, music, auction, tractor games and a winery tour. Parking is free and campers are welcome.
If you go
WHAT John Deere Expo XI
WHEN Thursday through Saturday, July 11-13
WHERE NYS Steam Pageant Association grounds, Gehan Road, 5 miles east of Canandaigua, just off Routes 5&20
ADMISSION Adults, $5 or $10 for 3-day pass; children under 12, $3 or $5 for 3-day pass
MORE INFO Email email@example.com or visit www.newyorkstateexpo.com