More than just equipment

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Lawn mowers owned by Dan and Carolyn Altvater are lined up at Wyandot County Fair Tuesday.

UPPER SANDUSKY — Wyandot County Fair-goers can see just a small portion of an Upper Sandusky family’s antique lawn mower collection.

Dan and Carolyn Altvater have eight antique lawn mowers on display at Wyandot County Fair this week. The tractors — including Massey Ferguson, Allis-Chalmers and Ford — are only part of the family’s collection.

Dan said Carolyn says they’re getting too old to be dragging 30 to 40 tractors around.

“We were up to 350-plus,” he said.

Dan, a member of Indian Mill Antique Association, said he lost 17 tractors in a fire west of Upper Sandusky in October.

While some of his tractors are retired and rest in a shed, others are used for tasks around the property.

“Anything over 25 years is antique,” he said.

Dan said a yellow Allis-Chalmers was what started the “mess.” His granddaughter, who was 5 years old at the time, said she needed the tractor.

“She calls that the ‘wiggle butt,'” he said.

A common farm tractor, Dan explained, has a solid frame with front and rear axles.

“The back end is solid,” he said.

But, the yellow tractor has a shaft, and the back portion of the tractor is separate from the front.

Dan said if his grandchildren want one of his lawn mowers, the family assigns a name to the tractor.

“Massey Ferguson was a part of our life. I thought all Massey Ferguson lawn tractors were red,” he said.

But, Dan saw a yellow one drive by at a show in Findlay, and he ran the owner down.

“He would not part with that tractor,” he said.

When the Altvaters aren’t traveling, they mow grass at their farm and get their tractors running.

“If the need arises, I will barter, sell or trade,” he said.

This year’s Wyandot County Fair marks the 10-year anniversary of the date Carolyn died at the fair and was revived.

“(A first-responder) wouldn’t give up,” he said.

Dan said Carolyn had a massive stroke during the fair and was taken to Toledo. She later went to rehabilitation in Galion.

After not knowing who her husband was and seeing a prism for seven days, she recognized her brother and noticed she had two feet.

“God’s written all over this,” he said.

The fair continues through Sunday, according to its website.