PEPPERELL — A Pepperell summer staple is coming to an end this year, with the 40th and final “Crank Up” coming to the Town Field July 13.
Founders and organizers Jim Dunn and Kim Spaulding are closing up shop this year after four decades of showcasing antique tractors and engines from around New England.
The Crank Up was originally organized in 1975 as part of Pepperell’s bicentennial celebrations. Dunn and Spaulding were asked to run it because of their lifelong love for the antique machines. They’ve continued ever since.
“We didn’t know when to quit,” Dunn said.
With no volunteers to pick up the torch, this year is expected to be the last.
“We’ve talked to several town folks about it the last couple of years, but nobody really has stepped up,” Spaulding said.
Both Dunn and Spaulding said they have been interested in machines for most of their lives. Dunn collects mostly engines, which are stationary but were used for tasks like pumping water, while Spaulding is more focused on tractors.
“Anything that had a motor on it and made noise, it attracted me,” Spaulding said.
“It’s the uniqueness of how simple they are and how long they last. It’s pretty amazing that they’re still running,” he added.
Dunn said that when he was growing up, the engines were a luxury.
“When I grew up there was no electricity, no nothing. Any machine that could save you a little work was a good thing,” he said.
They said the event usually draws in more than 50 tractors and 100 engines from all over New England. Each state in the region is usually represented at the event, Dunn said.
Often, the same people bring their tractors and engines to display year after year. That community is one of the aspects they said they’d miss most.
“We’ve met a lot of nice folks,” Spaulding said. “They’re all down to earth, farm people, nice, honest people.”
In addition to the tractors and engines, Dunn’s Ford Model T, which his father purchased new in 1924, will be on display. Twenty-five years later, Dunn bought it from his father and drove it to school. More recently, he restored it so that he could drive his oldest daughter to church on her wedding day.
The event has become a family affair over the decades. Their wives, Mary Jane Dunn and Martha Spaulding, have run the registration table every year, and their families have frequently attended.
The Crank Up has never charged for admission or registration. They sell buttons, which are printed each year, for $1 each, and the Fire Department runs the concession stand. Making money has never been an objective, they said.
There is also no competitive aspect of the Crank Up. For Dunn and Spaulding, the event has always been simply about having fun.
“We wanted to keep it that way. That was our intent,” Spaulding said.