Farmers to show off antique tractors Saturday in Scott County

Friday, August 3, 2012
Elmer Kenkel of New Hamburg fuels the WD45 Allis-Chalmers tractor his wife Glenda Kenkel will drive during a 23-mile antique tractor ride set to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in Scott County. Forty-five area farmers plan to drive antique tractors in the ride. (Standard Democrat/Leonna Heuring)

NEW HAMBURG -- A caravan of nearly 50 antique tractors will putt along a 23-mile route Saturday in Scott County.

"We're going to have all kinds of sizes shapes and colors," said ride organizer and farmer Elmer Kenkel of New Hamburg, who will drive a 730 Case tractor in the ride.

The open-cab tractors will be driven by area farmers -- many of whom will be driving tractors that have been in their families for generations. Among the models and brands slated to be featured are John Deere, Farmall, Ford and Minneapolis Moline.

The ride will begin at 11 a.m. when drivers depart from Kenkel's 125-year-old family farm on Scott County Road 211, which is located two miles north of New Hamburg.

"(Aloysius) 'Otto' Kern (of New Hamburg) will be the ring leader; he sets the pace for the rest of us," Kenkel said.

Kern, who will drive a D15 Allis Chalmers, estimated the ride will last around four-and-a-half hours, depending on the weather, how many stops are made, etc.

"The ride is going to be a bit longer this year and will go through Kelso and New Hamburg," Kern said of the route which was increased from 17 miles to 23 miles this year.

The tractors will wind through some hills and curves onto Scott County Road 212 before crossing over U.S. 61 to Messmer Street in Kelso. They'll travel down south Messmer Street and return to U.S. 61, then turn onto County Road 213 and travel into New Hamburg. The caravan will turn right at St. Lawrence Church onto County Road 234, make a loop traveling county roads 246, 244 and 241 which leads back into New Hamburg. They'll follow Route A and return to Kenkel's farm.

"We'll have walkie-talkies for the first and last tractors and will keep in touch to see how we're all doing -- shall we speed up or slow down and if we should stop and take a break."

Kenkel recalled how the idea for the ride came about.

"We were shelling corn here a couple years ago and we started talking about doing a tractor ride," he said.

Last year the ride became a reality with 32 antique tractors -- ranging from a 1936 John Deere A to a 1965 Model Case.

"Everybody enjoyed it and wanted to put it on again this year," Kenkel said about last year's ride.

His wife, Glenda Kenkel, agreed.

Mrs. Kenkel will be driving a WD45 Allis Chalmers, which her father bought in 1957.

"I was proud to drive it because it brings back memories," Mrs. Kenkel said.

During last year's ride some motorists pulled over to watch the tractors while those who lived along the route sat on their front porches to watch, the Kenkels recalled.

"People would wave from their cars, and some would wave from their porches. It kind of made you feel special," Mrs. Kenkel said.

The ride might create nostalgia for some, Mrs. Kenkel noted.

"I guess a lot of people are interested in these antiques, and it brings back memories when people farmed years ago and have now moved to town," Mrs. Kenkel said.

Kern agreed.

"It's so fun because you like driving these tractors and you get them out for others to see -- and people like to enjoy them," Kern said. "People put pride in the old-time deal, and it makes it fun when people are out, there watching you drive by."

Currently 45 drivers from as far north as the Ste. Genevieve County community Weingarten and as far south as Benton are slated to participate in the ride. Others participating include residents from Zalma, Oran, New Hamburg and Kelso.

"It's good, old-fashioned entertainment," Kenkel said of the ride. "You get to meet with a lot of friends and relatives, and it's just a good, country get-together."

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