Top farm vehicles will be on display through the end of fair

PASO ROBLES — Two young women dominated this year’s JB Dewar Tractor Restoration competition at the California Mid-State Fair.

Winners were announced during the Cattleman’s Day dinner on Thursday, July 21. This year marks the 22nd year of the program.

Cierra Cowden, a junior at Nipomo High School, took home Grand Champion honors with her 1951 Ford 8N, and Analisa Jorgensen, an Atascadero High School freshman, came in second place with her 1967 Cub Lo Boy.

Brett Lipscomb, a senior at Heartland Charter School, came in third place with his 1948 Farmall Cub.

Each year, JB Dewar and Chevron Delo reward young students who have restored an antique tractor by providing them with a platform to share their workmanship, along with the distribution of scholarships.

JB Dewar mentors and advises students, teaching them business skills, teamwork, project management, budgeting, planning, and marketing lessons in their restoration process.

This year, seven restored tractors entered the program and competed. Students can work as a team or individually on a tractor.

The four other participants were:

  • Jake Camacho with his 1948 John Deere D — Nipomo High School freshman
  • Ulises Garcia and his 1940 Ford 9N — Paso Robles High School sophomore
  • AJ Brown with his 1924 Holt T35 — Templeton High School freshman
  • Lucas Pulse with his 1940 Farmall H

Since 2002, JB Dewar, Chevron Delo, the Alex Madonna family, and other local businesses have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships.

Students typically begin restoring their tractors in the fall and must have them complete the following July, along with their record books and presentations. From start to finish, students log in about 400 hours of work on their tractors.

Winners of the program receive award money sponsored by JB Dewar Inc. First place receives $4,000, second gets $3,000, and third place is awarded $2,000. 

Previous tractor restoration competitor Annika Ernstrom has taken over as coordinator of the program this year. In 2021, Ernstrom was crowned the National Grand Champion of the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition with her restoration of a 1948 Allis Chalmers.

Used to being on the hands-on side of things, Ernstrom says it has been a different transition for her, but she has learned a great appreciation for what goes into the program.

She says, “I had some good people around me to support me and it went pretty well.”

In addition to restoration winners, one student was awarded the “Spirit of Agriculture” sponsored by Isaac Lindsey and his family.

Isaac and his brother Louis are past contestants who have each completed three tractors and are familiar with these students’ challenges.

Garcia was given the 2022 “Spirit of Agriculture” award.

“That kid was incredibly helpful and probably one of the most respectful students I’ve met,” said Erntsrom.

The program is open to all high school students from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. All levels of mechanical knowledge are welcome to participate in the program.

While the program and industry is mainly men, Ernstrom says she is excited to see more and more young women like herself participate in the restoration projects.

“The girls killed it,” says Ernstrom. “I’m proud of them.”

JB Dewar also accepts tractor donations. If you have a worn-out tractor sitting under a tree somewhere, donating it to the program could be the perfect way to breathe new life into the metal beast.

“I am so proud of all of the kids,” adds Ernstrom. “They did an incredible job this year like always.”