WHAT IS THE GREAT NEBRASKA TRACTOR RIDE?
If you've grown up with or grown dependent on cell phones, technology and a fast paced lifestyle, you may really wonder what a Tractor Ride is all about. You may even think you don't care....until you take a look!
The Great Nebraska Tractor Ride is a collection of antique tractor enthusiasts (tractors typically 20 years or older) that enjoy sharing stories about their tractors and traveling 150 miles over two days on the open highways and roads through Nebraska's most beautiful hilly, wooded, river and stream lined farmland at 13 miles per hour.
What a peaceful and enjoyable way to see the scenery of Northeast Nebraska. A little time to reflect and the camaraderie with other people that love their tractors, make it such an enjoyable event.
Even as you are watching from your lawn chair, waving an American flag, you will appreciate the Great Nebraska Tractor Ride.
One of the favorite parts for many riders is driving through the parking lots of the retirement homes. The people sitting out front have an appreciation that is unparalleled by any other group.
The riders are primarily from Nebraska and Iowa but also travel from Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Tennessee, Michigan and Alabama. State borders can't even blur the common bond that riders and spectators share during the trip.
Every tractor has a story to tell and the stories go something like....
"This was my Grandpa's tractor."
All of the stories are about family, love and appreciation for this old iron.
KTIC Rural Radio has helped coordinate the Great Nebraska Tractor Ride since 2005. The ride was originally started by Emmett Hennig and Lloyd Olson as part of the Decatur Riverfront Days for many years before the Radio Station started to help coordinate efforts.
Originally the riders were all guys and mostly from the farm. Today, we also see their sons, daughters, and grandchildren ranging in age from 5 to 25, most of whom reside in metro areas. The number of wives that travel with the ride has also grown – some on tractors and some as “groupies.”
The entry is $75 and the drivers receive a t-shirt, hat, and lots of little goodies, not to mention 20 crazy radio station people who plan every detail from the route, the food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, lodging, sometimes tours along the ride, and a few other fun tricks.
Each year has a different route with new things to see. Here's a little history of where we have traveled:
In 2005, we traveled through the beautiful countryside of Nebraska starting in Decatur, then to Bancroft, Pender, Wayne, Norfolk, Stanton, Aloys, West Point, Oakland and Lyons with 40 riders.
The 2006 tractor ride kicked off in West Point, then to Scribner,Herman, Blair, and then in Iowa, Modale, Mondamin, River Sioux, Blencoe and Onawa, and then back to Decatur, Walthill, and Lyons.
The second tractor ride was bitter sweet, because we suffered a loss earlier in the year when one of our Broadcasters Ryan Guill, just 27 years old, who enjoyed the tractor ride from start to finish, passed away unexpectedly. We honored Ryan in 2006 with magnets on Farm Director Randy Koenen's tractor and the Tractor Captain's tractors in his memory. We will always miss our friend. Also in helping out with his memory, his parents have started a Ryan Guill Scholarship Fund that helps students who are going into the Broadcasting field.
Thank you so much to the people that contribute to his scholarship every year. As a way to show his gratitude, Ryan's Father, Randy, travels with us to take some wonderful pictures along the route!
Our third Great Nebraska Tractor Ride in 2007 was great! We started in West Point bright and early and traveled to Snyder, North Bend,Schuyler, Octavia, Bellwood, overnight stay in Columbus, then Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, Dodge, and then back to West Point.
The fourth Great Nebraska Tractor Ride in 2008 started in Wisner, NE with a great welcome from the Wisner Chamber of Commerce, they fed us free burgers for Thursday night registration, they were delicious! We started Friday morning and ended in Fremont at Wilderness Lodge for the night with a great meal provided by Bell Creek Beef and cooked by Kurt and Kurtis from Sweet Bran a Division of Cargill, Inc.!! Saturday we meandered back to Wisner with the sun shinning, with water balloons and squirt guns keeping us cool! We had no idea how much trouble we were introducing to this fun and crazy group – who decided to “get even!”
The fifth Great Nebraska Tractor Ride in 2009 started in Fremont at Merritt Equipment and went through Bennington Equipment, Mount Michael Benedictine Abbey, Waterloo, Valley, Yutan, University of Nebraska ARDC, Memphis (although with the rains we missed the drive through the State Park we planned), and overnighted at the military facilities of Camp Ashland. The next day on to Ashland, the farm of Corky and Gail Otto by Ithaca, Weston, Malmo, Cedar Bluffs and back to Fremont. This was our biggest ride to date so far with 182 tractors.
You can see we try to fit in as many towns as possible. We also try to incorporate Nursing Homes along the route because many of the people in these centers grew up with these tractors and it is our way of honoring them.
Lots of people set up their chairs in towns and out in the country along the route to watch the Great Nebraska Tractor Ride parade travel by. Whether you are on a tractor, watching the 150 mile parade or joining us at a break or meal, you will enjoy the tractors and all the fun that these great people have to offer! We would also like to thank all of the organizations that have helped out in making all of the Tractor Rides fun and memorable!
2010, the 6th Great Nebraska Tractor Ride started in Wisner at the High School. Following breakfast, we headed over the Elkhorn River to check out the latest flood stage, then crossed back North at Pilger, continuing through Stanton for a break at Maskenthine Lake by the NRD. Off to Hoskins and through Pierce to Cuthills Winery, stopping for the night at Sunset Plaza, Norfolk.
We enjoyed a Nebraska beef supper (beef compliments of Bell Creek Beef prepared by Cuming County Feeders & Sweet Bran) at Divot’s Convention Center. Saturday our all-rural route had a break at the Jeff Aschoff's place, then lunch at Godberson’s Farm just outside of Wisner, before our '214 tractors & friends' wrapped up 135 miles in 2 days, across 5 counties! What Beauty & What Fun!
In 2011, the 7th Great Nebraska Tractor Ride started at Michael Wegener Implement in Cornlea. On Friday, we traveled to Madison, Maple Creek Recreation Area, Clarkson Annual Czech Festival & Q125 Events, Tri County Ag outside of Schuyler, Richland and stayed overnight at the New World Inn at Columbus. On Saturday we went through Duncan, Monroe and Lindsay.
The Eighth Annual Ride was full of faces kissed by Friday's sun and Saturday's mud. We began our trip at Lee Valley Inc. North of Tekamah. They rolled out their finest welcome with to celebrate the Great Nebraska Tractor Ride and Bob Olson's (founder of Lee Valley Inc.) 50th year in business.
We rolled out of Lee Valley early Friday to drive past fields clearly devastated by the floods of 2011. From there we made a quick stop at the Chatt Senior Center onto a break at the Herman Community Church followed by Lunch at the beautiful Camp Fontanelle. Friday afternoon we stopped in Uehling. We then rolled into West Point to enjoy our evening meal at Guardian Angels Central Catholic Auditorium.
Saturday started with rains but after breakfast we started the ride right on time and headed to our morning break at Zion Lutheran Church then onto Oakland for Lunch, then full circle to Lee Valley.
9th Annual Ride…2013. Dinner by the Wahoo Chamber and polka music set the mood to welcome riders Thursday evening. Light fluffy pancakes flipped by the Touhy Livestock 4- H’ers prepared riders for their wet and windy start Friday morning at from Wahoo.
The sun broke through on the smoothest ride through the beautiful countryside of Saunders County. Oak Creek Hunt Club a hidden treasure in the hills was morning break. Rolling on to the Valley of Paradise, Valparaiso for chicken fried steak and homemade biscuits for lunch. Branched Oak Lake’s refreshing beauty and then a break of ice cream and pizza at Raymono’s, fortified tractor riders for entry into Lincoln on the North 27th Street exit over busy Interstate 80.
East Butler FFA alumni served a sumptuous ribeye steak dinner and refreshments under the big tent Friday evening. Alas Nebraska’s biggest lightening show ever cancelled our dancing!
Saturday at 8am all 175 tractors rolled from Star City Motor sports to Camp Creek Threshers in Waverly for the morning break. On to pulled pork sandwiches, homemade salads and desserts at Ceresco’s Immanuel Lutheran Church for midday. Is it over already? Yes! Back to Wahoo where tractors were loaded for home and farewells said til next year!
2014 9th annual Great Nebraska Tractor Ride had more than 175 antique tractors and their drivers gathered at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wayne on Friday, June 13th for breakfast and a safety meeting, to prepare for the two day, 84 mile journey, which concluded Saturday, June 14th back in Wayne.
Drivers made tracks north Friday morning, taking a break at around 9:30 am at the UNL Haskell Research Farm, east of Concord. Then it was on to Martinsburg for a memorable lunch hosted by Bob's Bar. Next, the tractors turned south for a break in Allen at 2:00 pm. The first day came to a close after arriving back in Wayne at Heritage Homes for a steak supper sponsored by the Northeast Nebraska Cattlemen.
Saturday morning, the tractors departed from Heritage Homes at 6:15 am, where they headed east to Wakefield for the Great Nebraska Tractor Ride's very first Sunrise Ride. After a legendary omelet feed at the Wakefield American Legion the tractors and riders cruised up Wayne Main Street around 9:30 am to finish where it all started at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.