The Lanesville Heritage Weekend festival has always been about celebrating rural agriculture, but things will kick up a notch this year with hundreds of tractors prowling the grounds of Lanesville Heritage Park.
Massey Ferguson tractors to be exact.
Two events — the Indiana Massey Collectors Association State Show and the Ferguson Enthusiasts of North America Regional Show — will draw thousands of enthusiasts to the festival, which will be staged Thursday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 15.
"There will probably be several hundred of them there," said Doug Meredith, Lanesville Heritage Weekend's marketing committee chairman. "All sizes and years, those types of things."
Meredith said Massey Ferguson fans "are like car enthusiasts, they just really get a kick out of them, getting an old tractor and restoring it and showing it."
Tractor-related festivities, albeit of a miniature variety, will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with the garden tractor pull, followed by an antique tractor pull at 6 p.m. Tractor and truck pulls are set for 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at the Heritage Grounds. An exhibitor's tractor pull is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.
Massey Ferguson Limited is a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment — the perfect complement to Lanesville Heritage Weekend. The National Massey Collectors Association is a chartered organization consolidating all interested parties in Wallis, Massey Harris, Massey Ferguson, and Ferguson tractors, related equipment and memorabilia.
"They'll be all around," Meredith said, "participating in everything."
In addition to tractors, Lanesville Heritage Weekend will also feature its usual staple of antique farm machinery demonstrations, including steam engines — one dates to 1902 and runs the festival's saw mill.
"We grow our own wheat and put it in bundles like they used to," Meredith said. "We bring in the sheaves and thrash the wheat with a 1930s thrashing machine powered by a steam engine."
Food, crafts and entertainment also are big draws with over 250 food and vendor booths, according to Meredith. All booths and food buildings open at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. The parade is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
Headlining Friday's entertainment are the Doo-Wops and the Wulfe Bros. Band, taking the stage at 7 p.m. The Juice Box Heroes will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, with The Monarchs rounding out the music with a 2:30 p.m. performance on Sunday. A chicken dinner will also be offered Sunday.
"Come sit and chew on a drumstick and listen to The Monarchs," said Meredith, adding that the popular band is likely to draw 3,000 people.
All told, the festival expects as many as 70,000 people to descend on Lanesville for its 44th year.
"We tout ourselves as the largest small-town three-day festival in Indiana," Meredith said, noting that Lanesville Heritage Weekend was named one of the top festivals of 2017 by the Indiana Tourism Association.
Such a massive event requires a core group of about 100 volunteers, with Meredith hoping younger folks will catch the volunteerism bug.
"We would really like to get younger people involved," he said. "A lot of the guys like me are in their 60s and 70s. If they really want to learn from the older people we need to get them in now."
Still, Lanesville Heritage Weekend continues to grow, for one simple reason.
"The big attraction about the festival is that everything is free," Meredith said. "You can come to our show and spend the whole day and not spend a penny if you didn't want to."
For a full list of events visit lanesvilleheritageweekend.com.