(Compiled by Andrea Myers and Kristy Hebert)
LONDON, Ohio – Visit any of the eight major farm machinery shows east of Kansas City, Mo., and you’re sure to find Ed Schaefer. He’s not the guy in the dealership hat walking around to inspect the biggest tractor, and he’s not the guy sharing stories about his antique tricycle.
He’s the one inside a tent sketching vintage tractors and implements so old-timers and young enthusiasts alike can remember a farming era gone by.
First with a pencil, then with ink, and finally with layers of watercolors and opaques, the professional artist captures even the smallest details from old Moline R’s, Case DC’s, Massey-Harrises and Olivers.
Every part has to be just right – the right knob handles, the exact bolt placement – to get the real thing, he says.
Schaefer, of Belleville, Ill., remembers boyhood days visiting his grandfather’s farm in Illinois. Everything was done with two white horses and two gray mules, he says. There was no fancy paint, no mechanization.
At shows now, he sees $250,000 combines and 36-row planters that put him in awe.
“This is the greatest farming country in the world. It really is, all these changes we’ve gone through,” he says.
So the professional painter wants to patronize that thought, to help us remember just how far we’ve come.
In Pennsylvania, he offers memorials to smaller tractors. In Illinois, they want larger tractors. In Georgia, they want cotton pickers. He’s got ’em all.
Schaefer boasts the largest collection of antique tractor art in the world, a collection he’s worked on since he became a professional commercial artist in 1983.
Before that, he traveled with his father-in-law to equipment shows. The older man had a penchant for restoring the old beauties, and Schaefer loved to photograph them.
His offered prints of his first commercial work, a John Deere B, to dealerships. Before he could sharpen his pencil, orders for 350 prints spilled in.
He hit the road to do shows and take his work to the common farmer.
Several of his prints also include a history of the tractor model shown, or the option to add a farm- or family-related poem to the framed work. Schaefer writes the poetry himself.
He also does prints of fire trucks, airplanes, locomotives, classic cars and more.
Contact Ed Schaefer at American Memory Prints, 5935 N. Belt West, Belleville, IL, 62223; by phone at 618-235-4788; or online at www.americanmemoryprints.com.
– Andrea Myers
“If you trust in your product enough, you’re going to let people try it before they buy it,” says jerky-maker Jeff Shaffer.
That’s why a steady stream of visitors veered from the tractors over to the Jeff’s Jerky booth as early as 8 a.m. They lined up, taking bites of mild, hickory, hot and nitro beef jerky. They sampled hot sauces and tried jalape