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Farmalls, John Deeres on display for annual Field Days

Wilbur Norman operates a Farmall pulling a grain shocking machine in a demonstration of how oat fields were cut, bundled and dried for separation. The straw went to the cattle; the grain for milling or rye. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 2
Amelia Riewer of New York Mills puts her muscle into making her own jump rope. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 2

Tractor aficionados gathered over the weekend to bring yesteryear back.

And history was relived noisily, sputtering, smoking, choking and clanging.

"I remember coming here when there were just a few tractors," said Duane Fast of Valley City, referring to the 18th annual Field Days in Park Rapids. "Look at this now! It's on the grass roots but it's really grown," he said with parental pride.

He's been attending most of those 18 years.

Dozens of tractors hummed, backfired, belched and wheezed, red Farmalls and Internationals, with a few green and yellow John Deeres sprinkled in for color.

Fast was photographing one such vintage John Deere. It was the closest thing he could find to one his dad owned on the farm. He's still looking for the exact model, a 1958 model M.

"This is a John Deere model H," he said snapping photos with his digital camera. "I found a model M but we were too far apart" on the price.

That was $25. Neither buyer nor seller would budge.

Ray Peterson was showing off a 1938 Moline. "This is the last year they built it," he said sadly.

Wilbur Norman of Park Rapids was parading his 1955 Farmall 100.

"There's not many of 'em out" any more, he said.

There were demonstrations, crafts, a flea market, a petting zoo for the toddlers who weren't around in the good ole days, and lots of camaraderie.

"It's a great hobby if you don't overindulge," said Norman Denstedt of Menahga, sporting an injured nose and forehead when the crank from a hit-and-miss engine flew off Friday night, gouging into his face. Denstedt was nevertheless cheerful.

He said with antique tractor hobbies, the worst thing a collector can do is try to keep up with the Joneses.

"You can spend a lot of money," he added.

A 1950 McCormick square baler got lots of attention, as did a grain binder.

"Then you shock 'em and sell the grain," explained Martin Nevala of Sebeka. The thrasher put loads of rye straw through it, bundling them into bunches of 6 where the grain would be stacked for drying.

"You'd sell the straw to local contractors" or use it for bedding, Nevala said.

"Some guys used to make rye whiskey out of it," he said with a wink. His dad owned a grain shocker like the one being demonstrated.

Andy Aho of Osage was another admirer - his grandfather owned one. And it is the younger generations like Aho that will keep history living and sputtering along.

"It's just great to meet people, spend some money in Park Rapids and talk tractors," Fast said.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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