John Cinnamon, the organizer of the tractor parade that is such a popular part of Winchester’s Dairyfest, says he will have quite a few of his own tractors in the parade this year and would be very happy to end up with 60 or more in total. Tinkess Photo

WINCHESTER – When Dairyfest rolls into Winchester the weekend of Aug. 9-11, one thing that many people look forward to is the very long line of vintage iron that makes up the tractor parade.

“This will be year 20,” said John Cinnamon, who was originally asked to organize the event as a competition. That idea didn’t last very long. “I had said to find someone else because there was no way I’m telling you that your tractor is nicer than the next guy’s. We could have a tractor show where people could have a look at them, but there wasn’t going to be any prizes or anything like that.”

Cinnamon says it started out as an antique parade and then it just evolved into a tractor parade. “We love to have the farmers come,” said Cinnamon. “And do you know what the highlight of it is driving past Dundas Manor. They really get a kick out of it. They bring all the residents outside, and they make sure there are no cars in the parking lot. We go in the parking lot at one end and out the other and they’re all sitting there in chairs and wheelchairs and waving and smiling and they love it.”

Cinnamon says they try to get there at three o’clock, to make it easier for the Manor to organize. He asks that those who are going to be driving a tractor in the parade gather in the field north of the curling club about 12:30 p.m. so that things can get organized.

During the pandemic some people met at his place on highway 31 and they picked up some more at the Country Kitchen restaurant on their way by. Meeting at the north side of the curling club makes it a little less complicated when considering weekend traffic on county road 31. “We usually leave at about 2:30- quarter to three,” said Cinnamon. “My goal has always been to be at the Manor at three o’clock.”

The weather gods have been kind so far: the event has never been rained out, although Cinnamon says they have gotten totally soaked on the way home a couple of times.

There is no registration fee, and there is no formal registration either. The first year they had about 20 tractors and last year they had around 80. “It all depends on how busy people are,” said Cinnamon, “I’d like to see between 50 and 60, if that’s possible, but I don’t hardly talk to anyone ahead of time. They just come.”

There aren’t a lot of rules to follow, but there is one that is very important and that is enforced: no riders! Cinnamon says if the tractor has a cab with a seat, that should be okay, but hanging on the back or sitting on the fenders, that is not allowed. “It’s a matter of safety,” says Cinnamon. “It’s easy for something to go wrong and we want to make sure it is a fun, safe day for everyone.”  A sad fact of life is that when someone does something foolish, even after being told not to, they frequently look for someone else to blame.

“It’s not only the lawsuit, it’s a mind-boggling thing that somebody could actually be killed,” he said. “You don’t want anything like that at all.”

Last year Cinnamon said he could have 20-22 tractors in the parade, some real old, some kind of old, and some of current vintage. Some will be cleaned up real nice, but others will be, as Cinnamon describes it, “wearing their work clothes.”

As he walked around the Big Blue Shed where he works on his equipment, Cinnamon talked about the collection of tractors it houses, and it quickly became obvious that each one has a story. While they can’t talk, if there are people like John Cinnamon to share their history, those stories will never die. Come out for the parade on Sun., Aug. 11 and see for yourself what they have to say.