homepage logo


By Staff | Aug 31, 2012

It had been a while since I’d seen the old gal and she was turning 50 this summer, so I thought it was time to pay another visit.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the annual Steam Threshing Jamboree at Prairie Village, which was exciting enough in itself. The fact that they were also featuring John Deere was icing on the cake.

I strolled the area where exhibitors line up for the twice-daily tractor and machinery parades. Old iron owners can’t seem to help themselves; they’re so incredibly proud of their stuff, they parade it as often as possible.

There was some commotion off in one corner. Investigation revealed that a heroic effort was being made to resuscitate a dead tractor. The old-school method of jump-starting was being employed, involving a second tractor, a long flat belt and supervision by a bevy of bystanders.

One of the spectators shook his head and muttered that if the recalcitrant tractor were his, it would soon join the scrapheap.

After he left, another onlooker shook his head and muttered, “Even if it don’t run, that Waterloo Boy is still worth $50,000.” One man’s trash.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Prairie Village was giving away a 1962 John Deere 3010 tractor. The 3010 had undergone a thorough restoration at James River Equipment. It was essentially a brand-new 50-year-old tractor.

I scribbled my name and number on an entry slip, thinking, “I don’t know why I’m trying. I never win anything”

Moseying about the grounds, I stopped to admire a wonderfully restored John Deere 530. Its owner, Clayton Ness, of Brookings, S.D., was standing nearby so I chatted with him.

I learned that Clayton is 80 years old and that he and his wife, Marcia, have been married 53 years. I asked him why he chose to restore the 530.

“Dad had a G and an R John Deere when I was a kid,” he replied. “After I retired, I decided I needed a hobby, so I began to fix up old tractors. I do it for the enjoyment, not the money. I’ve got so much invested in this tractor, I would be lucky to break even on it. But they say you’re doing good if you break even.”

What does your wife think of this hobby?

“She’s OK with it. But even my doctor agrees that working on old tractors is good for me.”

My phone jangled. A guy from James River Equipment told me my name had been drawn and that I was a semifinalist for the tractor drawing. I was elated until I asked how many semifinalists there were. Over 500.

I dismissed my chances, thinking, “I never win anything!”

Wandering farther, I came across a stunning Farmall Super MTA. Its owner, Harold Swier, of Colton, S.D., was seated on the purring creampuff, so I asked him about his scarlet steed.

“I always liked the Super MTA,” he replied. “Dad almost bought one when I was a kid and I’ve been fascinated by this model ever since.”

I notice there’s a toy John Deere tractor in the Mason jar air cleaner. What’s up with that?

“This tractor was purported to be a John Deere eater,” said Harold with a grin. “There’s the proof!”

What does your wife think of your hobby? “She’s OK with it. She doesn’t complain too much.”

I was beginning to discern a pattern and was about to discuss it with my wife when an announcement came over the public address system: all the tractor drawing semifinalists were to report to the gazebo.

My wife and I complied, although I didn’t see the point. I never win anything.

The names of the 10 finalists were announced and I nearly fainted from shock when my name boomed out over the PA system.

Each finalist went up on stage and spun a numbered wheel. The goal was to get 50 without going over. I managed a 45. This should have been nearly unbeatable – except for the fact that three other finalists had already garnered a 50. I never win anything.

A spin-off was held and Esther Hyland, of Ramona, S.D., produced the highest score. She was given the microphone and she ebulliently proclaimed, “I told you so Raymond.”

Raymond, of course, was her husband. I asked him what she meant and he said, “Esther said all along that she was going to win that tractor. There was never any doubt about it as far as she was concerned.”

I asked Esther what she was going to do with the 3010 and she beamed, “I’m going to put it in a pretty place.”

In conclusion, we had a very exciting time at Prairie Village. Even though I didn’t win anything.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page