Cruising the Straits

Antique tractor owners love to show off their vintage machines by parading them through towns across the country. However, from the tractor seat there is only one parade that boasts a majestic view like no other.

The Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing is not only the largest antique tractor parade in Michigan, but also a unique, picturesque, adrenaline-pumping ride — just ask any of the 3,955 drivers who have crossed since the annual event was created in 2008.

Bob Baumgras, owner of Owosso Tractor Parts, is the mastermind and coordinator of the Sept. 14 event that attracted a record 38 clubs and 921 tractors.

Drivers must be part of an insured club, and this year they came from as far away as Minnesota. Other out-of-staters came from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky, and some even came from Canada.

Tractors arrive the day before the event and are staged according to their respective clubs in a field just outside of Mackinaw City. Baumgras divides the clubs into two groups. The first group is lined up and leaves the staging area directly for the bridge, while the second group parades through Mackinaw City before crossing the bridge.

Once across the bridge, participants parade through St. Ignace to Kewadin Shores Casino, which is five miles north of St. Ignace.

“In total, it’s about a three-and-a-half-hour parade, covering about 18 miles,” Baumgras says.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it went off without a hitch. I appreciate everyone’s cooperation and participation. There were no complaints ... just a lot of fun by all.”

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RIDE LIKE NO OTHER: Members of the Sunriseside Antique Tractor Club out of Standish make their way across the bridge and into St. Ignace. In front is Daniel Scherzer, driving a 1946 John Deere B, followed by Jim Swartz on a Ford 861 and Ron Bartlett on a 1957 John Deere 520.

This article published in the November, 2012 edition of MICHIGAN FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.