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Park Rapids Antique Tractor Club hosts 'Field Days' of yore

Their two-day event demonstrates early 1900s farming techniques, such as threshing and straw baling with refurbished tractors and other implements.

Mike Nepsund of Park Rapids built this 65-horsepower steam engine, a replica of a 1915 Case. He visits with fellow club member Bob Gartner at Field Days. Gartner is one of the founders of the Park Rapids Antique Tractor Club.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise
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Dedicated members of the Park Rapids Antique Tractor and Engine Club cherish the farming tradition.

Their two-day event, Field Days, demonstrates early 1900s farming techniques, such as threshing and straw baling with refurbished tractors and other implements.

Stephan Schauer of Arthur, ND has an affinity for International Harvester engines. He inherited this one from 1921 from his family.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

The 29th annual event was held at the club’s showgrounds on County Road 6, south of Park Rapids over the weekend.

This year’s event featured garden tractors and stationary engines, with a raffle drawing on Sunday for a Cub Cadet XT1 LT46.

Michael Hartung restored this 1968 Oliver tractor with the help of club member Dan Strickler.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

Michael Hartung, a Park Rapids High School art teacher by day and hobby farmer by night, showcased his rebuilt and restored 1968 Oliver 1850 tractor at the parade.


“I completely repainted it. Dan Strickler, who is one of the board members here, did the engine for me,” Hartung. “I’m not completely done with it. It’s about 90% done.”

The tractor is used weekly on William Macker’s farm, west of Park Rapids.

“I have 35 acres of millet,” Hartung said. “It’s just something that’s a little bit of fun.”

Hartung sells the millet to a local seed company.

He bought the tractor a few years ago. When he realized it had engine troubles, he enlisted Strickler’s help.

A ride on a miniature train entertained youngsters all weekend at Field Days.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Strickler has been a club member since 2008. He’s partial to Oliver tractors. A diesel mechanic for 43 years, club members turn to him for his expertise. “I wish they wouldn’t,” he quipped.

Justin and Ryan Peterson are both members of the Park Rapids Antique Tractor Club. They pose before a 1958 Oliver Super 88 that Justin bought in Rochester. Ryan also stands next to fiancé Kari Pierce. Justin's son, Adrian, is on the left.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Justin Peterson is president of the Park Rapids Antique Tractor and Field Club, which is around 60 members strong.

“We’re always looking for more members,” he said. “There’s always work to be done out here, and it seems like there aren’t enough hands.”


Proceeds from Field Days goes toward upkeep of the showgrounds and its buildings, along with raffle prize purchases.

Peterson brought a John Deere B Model to the festival. It was originally purchased by his great-grandfather in 1937. “It’s been in the family. I’m fourth generation and the boys are fifth generation,” he said. “I do food plots with them. They still get worked.”

Peterson bought a 1951 Farmall in Menahga about a dozen years ago as well.

Matt Hildebrandt emblazons the club's logo onto a newly built birdhouse. "Don't lick it for at least five minutes," he jokingly told the child.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Inspired by his grandpa’s steam engine, Mike Nepsund set out to recreate a 1915 Case engine. He began the project in 2012 and completed it last spring.

It involved a great deal of research, “but I didn’t give up.”Portions of it were made out of cast iron in Duluth.

“All the boiler plumbing, I’ve never seen two steam engines that looked the same. Every one is plumbed a little different,” Nepsund noted.

Bob Gartner, one of the founding members of the tractor club, pointed out that they weren’t manufactured on an assembly line. “They were built in a stall.”

At Field Days, he cut firewood with the quietly powerful machine.


“All these old engines purred,” Nepsund said.

A pickup ran into a boat trailer on Sept. 12, resulting in minor damage to both units.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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