New Holland Tractor Show wet, but
not washed out
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[September 11, 2018]
a weather event occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, it is sometimes hard
to realize that the event will at some point in time probably have
an impact on central Illinois, but it does.
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 weekend.
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.
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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
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
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