How it all began
In 1975, the Silk Hope Ruritan Club endeavored to seek new forms of gaining revenue. William L. Cockman and one other member went to visit Jack “Jackie” M. Johnson to investigate the possibility of a show with old equipment on exhibit in Silk Hope. Jackie was the owner of a steam engine and was presently on the Board of Directors for The Old Time Historical Association in Climax, NC where antique machinery was on exhibit. The three thought it could work, and together they brainstormed with the Ruritan Club for the idea of a show of “antique farm machinery, old cars and equipment.” They wanted to bring history of the community and rural America to the area so all ages and backgrounds could either reminisce or learn for the first time what agriculture at the turn of the 20th century had been all about.
Several other farmers were in disbelief that people would come and pay to see old equipment working; after all, some of the area farmers were still using the same equipment many were thinking of displaying! The late Elroy Teague was heard saying, “Who in the world will come to Silk Hope to see this old machinery and pay money? We don’t care if we ever see it again.” He chuckled. Many of these farmers who were skeptics that first year in 1975 would soon become the greatest supporters of the show. Jackie, a Silk Hope Fire Department member, decided with the Ruritans to hold it the weekend of the annual Fire Department Chicken Supper in mid-October. They figured the crowd that normally supported the department in eating chicken would support the Ruritan Club by visiting the exhibit. So, the date was set and Jackie Johnson became the show’s first coordinator. Jackie said, “It was an experiment. The Ruritans needed a good way to make money and felt it would work. The word spread and members asked neighbors to bring horse drawn equipment. With Jackie’s coordination, the first show contained the largest display of horse drawn equipment ever exhibited in the Silk Hope community. To date, there has been been that large of an exhibition of horse drawn equipment in the Silk Hope Community.
The first year “ignited” many hearts to the potential of what Old Fashioned Farmers Day could be. Even though the show only made $300 with donations taken of usually fifty cents to $1, the Ruritan Club sought to have greater success the following year.
The second year, Jackie Johnson joined the Ruritan Club. Jackie Johnson, with the assistance of Rocky Cook, Billy Smith, and Richard Fox, started a collection of old tractors, engines and farm equipment. This was locally known as the "great mass hauling" of old timey farm equipment.
Since the first year, the one day event of Old Fashioned Farmers Day has grown to many extra exhibits, thousands of people attending and now runs for the whole Labor Day weekend. We hope it will continue to grow bringing history alive to the young and old..
Silk Hope Ruritan Club 4221 Silk Hope Rd. Siler City, NC
Old Fashioned Farmers Day Labor day weekend fun
The Old Fashioned Farmers Day event is held every Labor Day weekend at the Farm Heritage Theme Park.