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Illinois Country Living

Working Farm Show gets new home
Bill Cole and Company build antique barn

By Alexandra M. Newbern

After almost a quarter of a century without a permanent meeting location, the Antique Engine and Tractor Association (AE&TA), which hosts the Working Farm Show, will finally have a place to call home.

“Our club was on rented ground and we were having a lot of trouble negotiating to purchase the land. My brother Chuck and I were talking about looking for land. Bill happened to overhear our conversation,” said Kevin Bos, President of the AE&TA, “and he said that he had some land for us. When we asked about negotiating a contract to buy it, Bill said, ‘I just want to give it to you.’ We’re very fortunate to have Bill help us out like this.”

Longtime members of the AE&TA, Bill and June Cole of Hillsdale, donated a 40-acre plot of land to the AE&TA in 2008 to provide a permanent place to hold the annual antique engine and tractor show. The land is located off of Route 92 approximately eight miles north of Geneseo.

“I just wanted to do something to support and promote agriculture because it’s my roots … It all just kind of evolved from there,” Bill said.

The Coles donated more than just the land. Bill supplied the timber, his knowledge and the construction company, Trillium Dells Timberworks. Bos said, “Bill has worked in the timber business for many years. He knew the builders because he has sold a lot of wood to them over the years. Bill has been very involved in everything with this project.” Trillium Dells Timberworks was able to get help from the Builders Guild and local members of AE&TA in order to erect the timber-frame barn in only 10 days.

Approximately 48 feet wide and 70 feet long with 16 feet high sidewalls, the large timber-frame barn is built to look as if it is from the 19th century. Robert Delp, manager of Farmers Mutual Electric Company, lived on the property when he was a small child. He said, “Kevin and Chuck have been instrumental in making everything come about.”

The grand opening of the barn will be the 2010 Working Farm Show. The event will be Sept. 17 – 19. AE&TA are expecting club members to bring 400 to 500 pieces of farm equipment for the show this year. There will be approximately 100 pieces of equipment for this year’s featured tractor brand, Minneapolis-Moline. All things promoting Minneapolis-Moline will be inside the new barn during the Working Farm Show. Some of the items are toys, clothing, farm equipment and memorabilia. Past featured tractor brands include Oliver, Ford and Massey. John Deere will be the 2011 featured tractor brand, when the show is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“We still have a lot of work to do on the barn and the land before the Working Farm Show,” said Bill, “but the barn is already very impressive.”

“We’re feeling nervous, but we’re happy that we have our own ground. We are really excited,” said Bos, “but we’re trying to be cautious because we don’t want to appear unorganized. People used to know where to go and what to do at our old location, but this year nobody will know. It will be different for everyone this year because we have been in the same place for the previous 24 years. ”

For more information about the Antique Engine and Tractor Association, The Working Farm Show and the new barn visit AE&TA’s website at



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