Vintage steel

Webster County Fairgrounds hosts antique tractor show this week

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Art Moeller, president of the Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club, front, looks over at Dale Gerken, another member of the club, as he makes sure the old steamliner train is ready for operation for the Webster County Fair this week.

Between 60 and 80 vintage tractors will be on display this week at the Webster County Fairgrounds for the 30th annual Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club tractor show.

All tractors, engines, and parts dealers are welcome, according to Gary Tussing, a member of the Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club.

“This is our 30th year we have put on a show,” Tussing said. “We have a large display of tractors and gas engines.”

Minneapolis-Moline Modern Machinery will be featured, he said.

“Each year we feature a different brand of tractor,” said Art Moeller, president of the club. “The tractor club was organized about 30 years ago, and actually there aren’t too many of us left.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Dale Gerken, a member of the Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club, looks over a vintage Minneapolis-Moline tractor at the Webster County Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon.

The show, which will run from Thursday through Sunday, is a chance for people of all ages to enjoy the history of agriculture machinery. It will be taking place at the same time as the Webster County Fair.

“Our steam train out there we run daily from Thursday on and it was originally at Oleson Park,” Tussing said. “It was built in 1952 and we are still giving rides on it.”

He added, “We have people 80 years old who used to ride on it at Oleson Park.”

Dale Gerken, another member of the club, said he encourages everyone to ride.

“We tell them to ride it again,” Gerken said. “Anyone can ride it. It’s got steel wheels. You ain’t gonna flatten the tires.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Art Moeller, president of the Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club, explains the history of the steamliner train ride at the Webster County Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon. This lighted sign is the original sign from Oleson Park when the train was at that park in the 1950s.

Moeller said Gerken is a valuable member of the club.

“He’s our chief engineer,” Moeller said. “He fixes anything that needs fixed and builds anything that needs built.”

The old steamliner actually runs on compressed air, Gerken said.

“It sounds just like a steam train,” Gerken said. “It chugs, chugs, chugs, and spits out water just like the original.”

He said the train is meant to stay in Webster County.

“When the family gave it to us, we said it would never leave Webster County,” Gerken said. “It was built here. It just as well stay here.”

The best part of the show is that it’s all free, Tussing said.

He said tractors have changed a lot through the years.

“Seeing the old tractors and operation,” Tussing said. “People, especially kids today, don’t have an opportunity to be around tractors and agriculture equipment. It’s nice for them to be able to see what things used to be like and they are a lot different now than they used to be.”

He added, “For a lot of years, they didn’t have a carnival or anything, so only entertainment as far as a ride was our miniature steam train. We have given a lot of rides on that and the kids really enjoy it. A lot of kids haven’t seen a steam engine in operation. It’s a miniature scale model. It’s neat to see the kids ride that.”

Tussing said some of the tractors on display date back to about 1918, but it varies from year to year.

Gerken said he owns tractors from 1935 to 1976.

“I like them all,” he said.

Food, including homemade ice cream and pies, will be for sale.

Tussing said the money raised from food vendors helps pay for the entertainment.

“We are a nonprofit group,” he said. “On a yearly basis we give a scholarship to one of the 4-H students who pursue their education in agriculture.”

On Friday, Eddie Simpson will provide musical entertainment from 7 p.m. to about 9 p.m.

Pulled pork sandwiches will be served at that time.

“Our big event is on Friday evening we have our free entertainment with Eddie Simpson & The Tributes,” Tussing said. “He does an Elvis tribute artist and he does a real nice show.”

He added, “They do ’50s and ’60s rock n’ roll and a little country. We will be doing some gospel music as well.”

Tussing said he has known Simpson for years.

“He’s a friend of mine,” Tussing said. “He’s been doing this about 18 years. He’s pretty well known throughout the county. He’s been to a lot of different events.”

2018 Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor & Engine Club tractor show

Where: Webster County Fairgrounds

When: Thursday through Sunday

Cost: Free

• Friday night at 7 p.m. — free

musical entertainment featuring

Eddie Simpson & The Tributes

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