Annual tractor drive honors the late Ken Harnacke

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[July 10, 2019] 

On Saturday morning the Antique Tractor and Small Engine Club members made a trek from New Holland to Mason City for a visit with residents at the Mason City Nursing Home. The club annually holds a tractor drive traveling through the country. Afterward the club returns to New Holland for lunch and a time of visiting and in many cases, comparing notes about their vintage farming machines.

This year was somewhat bittersweet as the group was traveling minus one very important member, Ken Harnacke. Harnacke has been responsible for hosting the annual drive as well as a fall tractor show in New Holland for many years. This year, Harnacke passed away on June 10th following a brief battle with cancer. Harnacke had been diagnosed earlier in the year with cancer in his back. He had undergone cancer treatment and rehab, then died suddenly on June 10th from a heart attack.

This year, his family including his wife Carla, daughter and son-in-law Amanda and David Gray, and grandson Ryne, continued the tradition bringing together the club for a day that included remembering the man who has helped keep the club going over the years.

More than a dozen tractors left New Holland at approximately 9 a.m. via Illinois Route 10. At the curve north of town, they took the blacktop road north to a second blacktop heading west. That road took them straight into Mason City just a half block from their final destination in the parking lot of the nursing home.

Tractors were parked and Carla Harnacke and Amanda Gray worked to hand out bottles of ice cold water on the very warm day. Residents of the nursing home came out to visit with the drivers, admire the tractors, and perhaps remember some days of old when they might have had first-hand experience on similar machines.

After a time of visiting with the residents and each other, the tractor brigade headed back to New Holland. On the return trip the group veered from their original route to make a swing past the cemetery south and west of New Holland where Ken was laid to rest.

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They then made their way back to New Holland and the Harnacke Buildings Shop where they were treated to lunch courtesy of the Harnacke family.

Before and after the drive, members were offered the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for the International 856 pedal tractor that Harnacke has donated to the Friends and Family Relay for Life team from Lincoln. Harnacke donated the tractor to be raffled as a fundraiser in honor of his wife Carla, who is a cancer survivor. At the time he gave the gift, he didnít know that he would within a very short time be diagnosed with cancer himself.


A number of the tractor club members took the opportunity to purchase those tickets in memory of Ken. At the end of the day, the relay team had another $125 for the American Cancer Society.

The tractor has been making its way around the area, visiting the ALMH Farmerís Market, the Oasis Flea Market held during Pigs & Swigs, Relay for Life annual relay day, Collision Concepts in Lincoln, and currently the tractor is at the New Holland Banking Center in New Holland. Tickets are on sale at Harnacke Buildings, Lincoln Daily News/CCAOnline, Collision Concepts, and the New Holland Banking Center. The drawing for the tractor will be held on September 14th at the New Holland Memorial Tractor Show.

[Nila Smith]

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