Thirty-two tractors rolled through the countryside on Sept. 4, 2021, and more than $12,000 was raised in an antique tractor raffle the next day, Sept. 5, as the Ridgeland Fair hosted its fourth annual tractor run and fundraiser.
The 30-mile tractor run included 32 machines, according to Kurt Bilse, who helped to organize the event and who arranged for a lunch served midway through the trip, which went through wooded and hilly portions of northern Dunn County.
Ridgeland resident Jim Lewis, who started the tractor run four years ago and who helped organized the raffle, said the money is helping to revive interest in the Prairie Farm High School agricultural tech education program. Lewis and his daughter, Kim, have helped organize each of the annual tractor runs.
The winner of the raffle, Ridgeland resident David Keller Jr., was announced Sunday night, Sept. 5, during the fair’s centerpiece event, the National Tractor Pulling Association regional pull at Eldon Luer Field.
Keller’s prize is a 75-year-old John Deere Model B (manufactured in 1946), which was fully restored by Prairie Farm High School students and other volunteers, and which was donated to the school by All States Ag Parts, of Downing, Wis.
“We wanted to bring some more money back (into the high school tech ed program),” Jim Lewis said Thursday, Set. 16. “The shop teacher, Yan White, told us he has more kids interested in (the program) now. We’re hoping we can get more kids interested, and keep ‘em out of mischief, what with all the other problems there are in this world.”
Bilse said the participation in the raffle was amazing.
“This means we can get the equipment the shop needs to train kids who may not have a chance to learn this trade after high school,” he said.
Besides All States, other businesses were involved as well, Bilse added.
“Synergy Co-op donated the back tires and a lot of the smaller parts, Noble’s Tire donated the front tires, and All States donated the paint, a lot of used parts, and many of the supplies.”
Tractor run attracts 32 owners
Lewis said he started the Ridgeland Fair tractor event four years ago because “I just liked tractors.
“I drove a semi and farmed all my life,” he added. “I started collecting tractors and putting them together.”
After witnessing a similar event on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and volunteering on another one in the Barron area, Lewis said, “me and Kurt got talking and asked ourselves, why couldn’t we do something like this in Ridgeland?”
Bilse said the Sept. 4 event included 32 tractors and 10 passengers on a wagon pulled by Hillsdale resident Kevin Roske.
Lunch was served by his stepdaughter, Alaina Anderson, and her family, who were waiting for the tractors at their town of Otter Creek home.
“We had pork, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, desserts and beverages,” Bilse said. “It was quite a meal.”
Four trophies were awarded based on a vote taken by the participating tractor owners.
Farthest traveled -- Mike Jundt, Norfolk Nebraska.
Best Appearance -- Dave Haugen, Dallas
Most Unique and Oldest (two trophies) -- 1937 Minneapolis Moline, Pete Score, Boyceville.