While an antique tractor may not have the "Wow!" factor of a restored classic car, Hesperia resident Paul Dunn says they are becoming just as popular among collectors across the nation.


Dunn is familiar with the growing number of enthusiasts because of his involvement in the Hesperia-based Early Day Tractor & Iron Association, Branch 242 of the national Early Day Gas Education and Tractor Association.


Both nonprofit organizations are dedicated to promoting interest in the collection, restoration and preservation of tractors and other farming equipment of historical value. Dunn says this work is crucial to the future of agriculture in America and beyond.


"I believe young people interested in this field can't learn and grow until they fully understand what happened in the past," said Dunn, a resident of Hesperia. "We're helping plug up the holes of missing information that the classroom doesn't fulfill.


"And aside from teaching our youth the mechanical workings of a machine in relation to future designs, we also give them opportunities for hands-on experience with the equipment."


According to Dunn, his newly formed organization provides educational opportunities through presentations at schools and community events. It also exhibits equipment owned by its members at Southern California-based restaurants, swap meets and universities.


"We recently took five tractors owned by myself and two other members to Cal Poly Pomona's Strawberry Festival and you'd be surprised at how much interest we had," said Dunn, who owns 10 tractors dating back to 1948. "And I'm proud to say that each one of us came home with a trophy."


Dunn says that along with the educational aspect of his group, it's also a great place to socialize with people who share a common interest. It currently has a mix of 26 male and female members who meet once per month to discuss everything from promotional opportunities and fundraising to safety and equipment issues.


Additionally, the organization holds a breakfast meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursdays at Hesperia's Corral Family Restaurant, 15550 Main St.


"Our breakfast meeting are not just about tractors or our branch activities," said Dunn. "It's also friends getting together to talk about health, taxes, the state of the world or anything else that might come up."


On May 31, Early Day Tractor & Iron will take part in Bob's Big Boy's 3rd Annual Truck and Tractor Show at 3521 Hamner Ave. in Norco. Hours for the event will be 9 a.m. to noon.


"There are still so many opportunities to explore when it comes to tractors and farming equipment," said Dunn. "And we want to do all that we can to make ourselves available for those who want to benefit from our vast amount of knowledge and expertise. Everyone is always welcome in our 'family.'"