“ Vintage tractor rally held annually near Inverness „
Strathnairn Farmers Association Agricultural Working Vintage Rally & Display Day (its full title!) is an annual one day event held in September. It all happens in a field at Daviot Farm, about 6 miles south of Inverness, just off the A9. It is very easy to find and is well sign-posted from the A9 in both directions.
2009 was the third year of the event, and it was bigger, better and more professionally run than ever before. The sun even shone and there was only the briefest smattering of rain.
So What Can You See?
Obviously, the event will be of particular interest for those with an enthusiasm for vintage vehicles, tractors particularly, and an interest or connection with agriculture but there is so much more - something for everyone!
* Working Tractors & Machinery - approximately 50 tractors dating from between 1939 and 1980 demonstrating a variety of implements, but mainly various ploughs, a Marshall Mill dating from 1920 and a Caterpillar 10 from the 1930s. One particularly interesting exhibit was a 1923 Brown Binder (only the 240th ever made) drive by a Fordson N tractor.
* Working Horses - two heavy horses demonstrating the horse drawn plough and a horse and carriage (I think you could have a ride round the field in this)
* Static Agricultural Tractors - over 30 tractors dating from the 1940's onwards. Most of these are in beautiful condition, excellent examples of the era. A good variety of manufacturers are represented; Ferguson, David Brown, Case, Fordson, to name but a few. The exhibitors are extremely friendly and happy to chat about their machines - and few of them impose any restrictions on children, or adults, having a wee shot at sitting on the tractors!
* Standing Engines - not really my thing, but if you are that way inclined there are a handful of engines dating from 1900 onwards.
* Motor Cars - Land Rovers mainly (from 1956 onwards) but also a magnificent 1929 Rolls Royce (3175cc, 20hp saloon), a 1954 Jaguar, a 1956 Wolseley and various others.
* Commercial Vehicles - vans, buses, pick-ups and a fire engine. Again a lot of these exhibitors were very encouraging of hands-on interaction of their vehicles.
* Motor Cycles - a handful of BSA bikes from 1935 onwards.
* Memorabilia - my favourites were the antique bicycles; our girls could not get their heads round the 1818 wooden Hobby Horse or the 1875 Penny Farthing at all! There was also a collection of metal tractor seats and some working model steam engines
* Charity Stands (mainly local organisations) - second hand books, home baking, honey, tombolas, raffles, Nepalise handmade paper(!), Splat the Rat, charity Christmas cards etc
* Trade Stands - fishing equipment, tools and industrial supplies, toys, clothing, sawmill products, garden plants etc
* Miscellaneous Displays - wool spinning, chainsaw carving, birds of prey, peat cutting equipment, traditional Highland music (accordion and fiddles) and Highland Dancing Display (complete with piper - but don't let that put you off, bagpipes sound SO much better in the open air, honest!) Oh and the Broch Fergie Challenge where a team strip down a Fergusson tractor and then have a wee break and then put it all back together. A bit like a F1 pitstop team but a lot more laid back and relaxed!
* Heritage Tent - interesting display with photographs of the local area over the years, letters written by residents over the past hundred years, rent receipts, old maps etc. This may be the kind of thing that appeals more to either locals or those interested in the local history. (And you can always try to spot the picture with ME in it....)
* Food Stands - the usual chips and burgers, teas, coffees and ice cream, as well as pizzas, wraps and paninis. Our favourite was the stand selling the still-hot fresh donuts! Or bring your own picnic and find your own wee quiet corner under a tree.
* Bouncy castle and small funfair ride for the little ones.
* The Working Harvest Machinery Display deserves a separate mention as this is one of the highlights of the day, to my mind. Scything, binding and a thrashing mill demonstrate how it was done in bygone days, alongside an efficient modern bale wrapper. I obviously appeared a bit too interested in this exhibit and before I knew it I was enlisted to have a go at making a corn rope - hard work on the arms!
The event runs from 10am until about 4:30pm - there is a lot of walking about and standing around so this might be a bit long for younger children. If this is something you are interested in, you could definitely spend the whole day here though.
Car parking is available in an adjacent field, and there are special parking arrangements closer to hand for disabled visitors. Shopmobility are also on hand for those requiring their special assistance.
The event is held in a recently harvested field so there is wheat stubble underfoot - stout shoes or trainers are recommended for your own comfort; sandals and flipflops are not really advisable. Plenty of people negotiate the event with pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters - the terrain is predominantly level. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.
There are plenty of well-maintained toilets dotted about the field - I never observed excessive queues at all.
Admission is a very reasonable £5 per adult - children, car parking and dogs are free.
We think this is a great day out and we plan our trips north to coincide with this event. It's good value, there's plenty to see, it's educational and very, very interesting. You don't find yourself saying "Don't touch!" all the time to your children as most of the exhibitors are "hands-on" friendly. Obviously if it poured with rain, it would not be quite so enjoyable, but to date the organising committee have been lucky with the weather.
If you find yourself in the area around the third weekend in September next year, why not check it out!