Tractor Daze event expected to be bigger, better
The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame set out to make its events a little bigger and better this year in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, and if the list of activities for Saturday’s Tractor Daze is any indication, it succeeded.
The annual event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will include the usual tractor pulls, hayrides, train rides, living history and touch-a-truck events, but this year also will commemorate 50 years with a display of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president who signed the Ag Hall into existence, and an induction of two new members of the Hall of Fame.
“I think a good time will be had by all,” Dawn J. Gabel, director of operations and development, said. “ … We have an unusual amount of participants this year – bigger than usual. Our plan was to make it bigger and better, and I was lucky to have the help of the Wyandotte County Farm Bureau.”
In particular, Gabel said Kerry Mueller of the Farm Bureau and Cheri Miller of the Wyandotte County Conservation District provided a lot of help organizing events.
“It allowed us to do an event that is just extraordinary and a lot more,” Gabel said.
The Touch-a-Truck area will include Smokey and the Bandit replica vehicles, Marvin’s Ninja Turtle Cars & Tow Trucks, Kansas Turnpike Authority snow plows, and emergency response vehicles from the Bonner Springs, Kansas City Kansas and Fairmount Township fire departments.
Educational activities will include the “Ag In Motion” trailer from the Kansas Farm Bureau and Soil Tunnel Trailer from the Wyandotte County Conservation District, a combine cab simulator and even a drone demonstration by a farmer from Colby.
Children’s activities will include soil painting, a touch-a-grain display, pioneer farm games and cow chip throwing contest, a small petting zoo, and the Cabela’s BB gun range. Food vendors will be available, including Churn of the Century selling homemade ice cream.
The Kansas City Two-Cylinder Club will have their tractors on display, with the Parade of Power at noon, a Garden Tractor Pull at 1 p.m. and Kiddie Pedal Pulls set for 1 and 2:30 p.m. Children may begin signing up for the pedal pulls an hour in advance of the first event.
Gabel noted that some activities will be in air-conditioned buildings for those who need relief from the heat.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for 11 a.m. The Ag Hall has not inducted a new Hall of Fame member since Willie Nelson’s induction in 2011. Gabel said the board decided to ask for nominations for two inductions this year to make up for the years of no inductions and hopes to have another induction next year.
“The nominating committee looked at the nominations and decided both individuals were very deserving,” Gabel said.
Both inductees happen to be from Illinois. The first is Dr. John A. Kennicott, 1802-1863, a horticulturalist who worked to educate farmers about innovative agricultural methods.
“At the time, there was a lot of import of European plants, and he made a point … of collecting samples of native plants from different farmers and persons on his travels,” Gabel said. “And as he did that, he would propagate them.”
Kennicott also was instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the land-grant university system, the Illinois State Agricultural Society and the first state fairs in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Forrest Selby, 1911-1970, is an inductee who will represent the commercial side of agriculture. Selby was an implement dealer and is being honored for his contributions to promoting agricultural mechanization, including creating a system to help veterans returning from World War II obtain loans to purchase equipment needed to farm.
“He found that veterans coming back from the war did not have work history enough to get loans for land and implements,” Gabel said. “He put together a group of investors that loaned veterans money to get started in farming, and that really was the first (program) of its kind.”
He also was recognized as having the most successful business model for selling implements. By 1958, Selby Implement Company was the largest International harvester dealership in the United States.
Descendents of both Kennicott and Selby plan to attend the ceremony.
Admission to Tractor Daze is $5 per person, though ages 2 and under are free and one free child aged 3 to 14 may enter with every paid adult.
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