After several logistic discussions, the 2013 Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing is an official 'go'.
The future of the to-be 6th annual crossing was uncertain following last year's event, as Kewadin Shores Casino officials said they were turning the loading dock and parking area for hauling trucks and trailers into an RV campground.
The casino's decision left owner of Owosso Tractor Parts and founder/organizer of the event, Bob Baumgras, in a quandary as to where the tractors would ultimately park after the parade and where hauling tractors and trailers, as well as loading docks, would be located.
Baumgras worked closely with the City of St. Ignace, which was eager to find an alternative. In addition to a new location in downtown St. Ignace for the tractor show, the event also has a new date.
In years past, the event was done in combination with the weekend of the Richard Crane Memorial Big Rig Truck Crossing and Show. This year, the antique tractor crossing and show has a weekend of its own – a week before the big rigs. The tractor crossing is set for the morning of Sept. 6, followed by the show, which will conclude at 5 p.m., Sept. 7. And, while it won't prelude the big rigs, it is the same weekend as Mackinaw City's 18th annual Hopps of Fun beer and wine tasting festival.
After parading through Mackinaw City and crossing the bridge, tractors will culminate in three different locations in downtown St. Ignace. The main area will be the Little Bear Arena, which is the city's ice rink/community center. Baumgras says he has also secured areas in the St. Ignanc Marina and the Star Line parking lots.
"Our goal is to keep them together as much as possible," Baumgras says. "We are working on having a lunch for tractor drivers and their families at Little Bear Arena after the ride. Parking areas for trucks and trailers will be in town. Two separate tractor loading docks will be available – one at Little Bear Arena and one by the airport for those who wish to leave early."
For those who want to bring their big rig trucks to show off, Baumgras says there will be a designated area by Little Bear Arena.
One of Baumgras's New Year's resolutions was to convince the Mackinaw Bridge Authority to again agree to the "buddy rider," which debuted in 2012 and allowed a second person on an approved tractor seat.
"The MBA was very pleased how it went last year, so we're bringing it back," Baumgras says. "Details will come in the official Rules & Regulations soon, but clubs must approve anyone who wants to participate in the buddy rider program."
Details about the 2013 event and registration form for clubs is available through a link on Owosso Tractor Parts web site at www.owossotractorparts.com. Updates on the event are being posted on Facebook.
With the event now having its own standalone date, Baumgras has unofficially adopted, "Bring it on," as this year's motto and is already calling on drivers to try and top the 1,000 mark.
"The love of crossing the Mackinac Bridge on a tractor and the camaraderie the event brings that weekend to clubs and individuals is more important than location and date," Baumgras says.
For more information, contact Baumgras at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-530-4554.
A photo gallery from last year's crossing can be found here.