Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2018

‘The rolling storytelling of ag history’

Tractorcade brings history and a whole lot of tractors to Washington
Jun 12, 2018
Photo by: David Hotle While few members of the Tractorcade attended the special Washington Municipal Band concernt held Monday, organizers presented the band with a check in gratitude of the warm welcome given to the event.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


After an eight-hour day of exploring part of Washington County, not very many members of the 19th annual Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade could bring themselves to attend a special Washington Municipal Band concert in Central Park. Marvin and Narlene Kilberger were the exceptions.

A 16-year veteran of the Tractorcade, Kilberger had spent the day on his John Deere 3010 traveling to Keota, Wellman and Kalona. On his trip he had to help tow a fellow tractor pilot to a gas station in Wellman. The Swisher native said that he has been all over Iowa with the Tractorcade; places like Knoxville, Dyersville and Decorah twice, to ride with the line of tractors.

‘My son-in-law was going to go,” Kilberger remembers of his first year riding in the Tractorcade. “He was hauling his dad’s tractor. I thought the trailer was big enough to haul two tractors, so I thought I would go too.”

Kilberger rode his John Deere 60 onto the trailer with this son-in-law’s IH 300 Utility and began a tradition that he has followed every year since. He recalls Mt. Pleasant being the home base that first year and can’t forget the huge storm that spun up the first night he was on the Tractorcade. During those years the Tractorcade only stayed in one town overnight before moving the next day.

Having learned lessons from the years that have followed, his new, quicker tractor is now easier to keep at the 10 mph minimum speed of the line. His camper sits on the Washington County Fairgrounds — reserved for the Tractorcade and the Washington County Fair — as he sees the sights and meets the people of Washington County.

“I don’t fish or golf or go to the casino,” the 77-year-old active farmer of a Century Farm said. “This is my away time.”

When the search was on for the town to be home base for the 2018 Tractorcade, organizer Matt Kenney was already familiar with Washington, having spent part of his childhood in town. He said his father was at one time a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy. During the search for the Tractorcade site, the first thought was to have the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort be the meeting site. When that did not work, the search team felt they would not have to look far from that location to find their 2018 destination. However, they knew they had the right place to accommodate 500 tractors and support vehicles the second they saw the Washington County Fairgrounds

“There are probably about 1,200 people in town because of Tractorcade,” he said. “The city has been fantastic, the chamber has been fantastic. The fair board has been fantastic. Everyone has been fantastic to work with.”

Originally, the Tractorcade was the brainchild of longtime WHO farm broadcaster Mark Pearson, organizer Andy Petersen explained. He said the original idea revolved around a RAGBRAI or classic car event for tractors. The first year was only one day long and had about 120 tractors. On Sunday, over 460 tractors rolled into the Washington County Fairgrounds. Petersen called the event a “rolling storytelling of ag history.”

“There is a very nice mix — I got the opportunity to see all the tractors this afternoon,” Petersen said. “There are a couple of Fergusons. There are a couple of LP burning tractors. A lot of them have a very personal connection with their tractor. It may have been the first one in their family they owned. Maybe it was one their grandfather grew up with or they grew up with. In a couple of instances tractors that were traded off were tracked down 30 or 40 years later and now are on the Tractorcade.”

The Tractorcade will continue for half of Wednesday, as the tractors will be driven to Lake Darling State Park in Brighton.

Kenney said the prep work for Tractorcade 2019 has already begun. The announcement of which town will be next year’s home base will be announced in January.

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