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Plow Days

Plow Days returns to Elba

By Virginia Kropf
tractor days elba
Louis Esten of Elba stands by a row of Farmall tractors ready to participate in Plow Days Saturday and Sunday at the Torrey Farm at 7411 Oak Orchard Rd., Elba.
Photo by Virginia Kropf

A love of antique tractors and the desire to show them off prompted Louis Esten of Elba to found Plow Days 26 years ago.

With help from most of his family, including son Michael, grandson Ayden and a family friend Daniel Gerould of Elba, Esten has held Plow Days one weekend every May at the Torrey Farm at 7411 Oak Orchard Road, about one-half mile south of Elba.

The first day of Plow Days was on Saturday and it continues on Sunday.

John Torrey is also an avid collector of antique tractors, with a collection of about 85 Farmalls and an extensive collection of die-cast toy tractors and pedal tractors.

One of the antique tractors expected to take part in the plowing demonstrations is a 1938 McCormack Deering 04 owned by Larry Boyle of Medina. Larry’s son Terry worked with Esten at Path Truck Lines in Oakfield, and Esten convinced Terry to get his father’s tractor running for Plow Days. 

Terry has spent the last three months working on the tractor, which hadn’t been run in 50 years. The tractor is No. 24 out of only 104 built. Terry estimates he has put at least $5,000 in it. Friday afternoon, Esten loaded it on his trailer and brought it to the Torrey Farm to take part in the demonstrations.

Plow Days started Saturday with 15 to 20 tractors working in the field, all of them McCormick Deering and Farmall, with the exception of one Cockshoot, a Canadian/Oliver brand.

There is no charge to attend Plow Days, which runs until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Esten said they have been rained out only once since 1998, and people still came to view tractors in the barn, enjoy the camaraderie and visit the vendor booths. Breakfast and lunch are available from food trucks on the grounds.

tractor days elba
John Torrey of Elba lines up a portion of his collection of antique tractors along Oak Orchard Road every spring. He lends his farm for Plow Days every May, a plowing demonstration of dozens of antique tractors, mostly Farmalls and McCormack Deerings.
Photo by Virginia Kropf.
tractor days elba
These are just some of the antique tractors lined up over the weekend to take part in Plow Days Saturday and Sunday at the Torrey Farm, just south of Elba on Oak Orchard Road.
Photo by Virginia Kropf
tractor days elba
Louis Esten of Elba, right, founded Plow Days 26 years ago and has held it every year except during Covid with help from son Michael, left, and grandson Ayden. Second from left is Terry Boyle of Medina, who restored the 1938 McCormack-Deering to participate in Plow Days. Boyle learned about Plow Days while working with Esten at Path Truck Lines in Oakfield.
Photo by Virginia Kropf

Plow Days in Elba continues to grow in popularity

By Virginia Kropf

When the Esten family of Elba decided to organize a plow day 17 years ago in honor of their late father, they couldn’t have imagined how popular the event would become.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 18th annual Plow Days took place at the farm of John Torrey of Route 98, Elba, with close to 60 old tractors.

It was Louis Esten who came up with the idea for Plow Days, and in recent years his son and daughter-in-law Nick and Mandy Esten have done much of the work. It takes the better part of a week to move all of Torrey’s tractors out of the barn and set up for the event.

“We think it’s important for people, especially the younger ones, to see how things were done in the old days,” Louis said.

The lineup of red tractors on the front lawn attracted passersby each day, even someone from Erie, Pa., and Syracuse. Antique tractor collectors came from Genesee and several neighboring counties.

One of the oldest tractors to take part was Louis’s 1938 W30 McCormick Deering.

The Estens estimate they plowed nearly 75 acres of ground with the old tractors.

Top photo: Chuck Esten, of Albion, sits on one of his antique tractors with his grandsons, Benjamin, 5, and Joshua, 16, during Plow Days Saturday and Sunday. Esten’s brother Louis, of Elba, was instrumental in starting Plow Days 17 years ago.

Photos by Virginia Kropf.

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