Late last week, the rain that was remnants of
Tropical Storm Gordon arrived in central Illinois, and while in
parts of Logan County the moisture was much needed, it also caused
some difficulties for events that were going on in the area over the
Such was the case for the New Holland Memorial Tractor Show on
Saturday. Organizer Ken Harnacke said that this is the first time in
13 years that weather forced a big change in the scheduled events
for the day. The Kiddie Tractor Pull had to be canceled early in the
day. While it was scheduled for the early afternoon, those who
manage the pull needed advance notice, so Harnacke made the call
Saturday morning to take that event off the schedule.
He said he had also made arrangements for a steam engine to be at
the show that was coming from a distance away. He felt he had to
contact the owner and cancel that attraction as well.
In the morning, the rain continued steadily, but it really didn’t
drown out the entire day. While the atmosphere typically takes on
festival-like qualities with members of the community coming out,
and a long line of antique tractors on display, this year it was a
bit different. The atmosphere around the show was more like a
good-sized reunion of like-minded people who just enjoy getting
together and ‘talking tractor.”
A few local tractors were on hand and those who
brought them were happy to share their knowledge of the tractor with
anyone interested. For the most part, the folks who did come out
enjoyed a time of just hanging out in the Harnacke Building Co.
building, sharing stories and enjoying cookies and coffee. Across
the street, a ham and bean lunch was set up in the New Holland Fire
House. At 11:30 a.m. the 30 or so fellas and five ladies gathered in
the fire house for a hot lunch and more time spent visiting.
After lunch, Harnacke brought in a large nicely
decorated cake he says is always part of the annual event. The cake
was cut and everyone enjoyed a big serving. All attendees had the
opportunity to enter a drawing for door prizes that were given away
right before cake was served.
While the day may not have been what it normally is,
there was still a lot to take in at the show. Harnacke is an avid
collector of tractors and farm equipment. Around his shop there are
items of interest from garden tractors, to toys and antique corn-shellers.
Inside the shop on Saturday was a special guest who had a display of
his hand-crafted toy farm implements. He explained that he looks at
old advertising pictures and then designs his toys according to the
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On this day, the prize display by the toy maker was
of a Massey-Harris corn picker. This is the style of corn picker
that would have been mounted as a wrap around on a tractor. The
tractor would roll down the rows of corn and the picker would cut
them off, pull off the ears, remove the corn shuck and throw those
ears into a wagon hooked on behind. On his silver and green model,
he had made the picker more or less self-propelled with a cage built
in the middle of the picker with a seat for the driver.
Outside, a fun item was a toy tractor rocking horse.
The battery powered kids riding tow had been mounted onto a wood
rocking frame. Because the rider was a John Deere, the paint and
decals on the rocker portion had been done in the same color scheme.
All around the area there are interesting antiques that relate
directly to farming and the evolution of the industry. From horse
collars used back in the day when ‘horse power’ came from a living
breathing animal, to sickles and scythes for cutting weeds. Harnacke
also has a large collection of signage including signs from gas
stations such as Gulf, Sinclair and Texaco, to old license plates.
Another fun item in Harnacke’s collection is a dairy cow that is
advertising Kraft Caramels.
At the end of the day, Harnacke also gave out a
number of handmade wall hangings to participants. He said earlier in
the day that he wasn’t sure how many people would end up coming, so
he planned to give out what he had on hand and write IOU’s to those
who didn’t get one.
He also had bright orange caps made that said New Holland Tractor
Show, and made sure plenty of those were given out as well.
All in all, though the day was not what it was originally intended
to be, it was very enjoyable for everyone there, and Harnacke showed
very little disappointment in the way things went. After all, it is
about celebrating the tractors. Whether it be a large crowd or a
small one, the best part is getting together, sharing and being a
part of a group who enjoys their collections and enjoys sharing them