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Truckin’ Off to Waterloo, Farm Museum That Is

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Annual truck and tractor show celebrates 11th year

The 11th annual Antique Tractor-Truck and Farm Equipment Show took place last Saturday and Sunday at the Waterloo Farm Museum on Waterloo-Munith Road.  Legions of truck and tractor enthusiasts stood on the grass beneath the slate-gray sky promising rain, a promise that wasn’t kept.  You’ve got to love the sound of popping pistons in the morning. It smells like a bountiful harvest.

The iron beasts of burden ran the gamut of style, distinction, and color, from traditional barn-red to the famous green and yellow enamel of good ol’ John Deere, the defacto king of the hill.

It was a busy morning.  Zachariah Torney is a 22-year-old intern who volunteered and assisted with fundraising and maintenance.  “The machines,” said the MSU student, “need help.  They must be clean to keep them working.  They need muscle.  That’s how they’re able to last so long.  People love to come to the tractor show.  It’s a nice community.”

The museum is dedicated to the good old days in the Midwestern Frontier, days, it would seem, that are as good as they’ve ever been.  Dogs enjoy the show also; there were as many loyal canines about the site as trucks and tractors.  Some rolled over inviting the visitor to scratch their bellies.  Others were not so willing.  These were not working dogs in the traditional sense but nobody seemed to mind.   They looked so rustic leaning against the wide rubber tires of the mean machines.  Each of the dogs was tethered lest they make a mad dash to the hot dog stand at the back of the property.  Who could blame them?  Nature always triumphs over nurture.      

Chelsea farmer Garrett Fisher leaned against his clean, green muscle machine, an Australian sheep dog sleeping at his feet.  Fischer, 24, bearded and barrel-chested with knotty working class hands, described the weekend as “a good little show.”  And it was.   

On a nearby tractor sat eight-year-old Jaidyn Verbison.  Wise beyond his years, Verbison dogged Fisher with Tom Sawyer cynicism.  Anticipating dogs, the boy had the presence of mind to wear camouflage pants and rubber boots, but he criticized his machine as “a piece of junk.”  “No, it’s not,” Fischer said calmly.  “Is too!” the boy spat.  He jumped down from his tractor and went off to play with his stodgy beagle, who he named “Piston.”  “Don’t let him off the leash,” Fischer said.       

The setting was as bucolic as the rich red barns with their steep pitched roofs supplying the backdrop for the antique colloquium.  This was the Midwest of Fitzgerald and Sebastian Dangerfield.  Organizer Ron Kaiser explained the event in its proper context.  “It isn’t about farm machines or boots and blue jeans,” he said, red-faced with enthusiasm.  “This is the 11th year.  The annual event, skipping a generation or two, draws close to 300 friends.  We really care for this place.”

“So many people don’t get out for the social thing but the big show would be lost if we didn’t keep it every year,” Kaiser continued.  He guesstimated that 40 trucks and tractors were on display last weekend.  “It’s a tight community,” he said.  “The whole museum is a social thing, too.”

Beverly Larsen sat by outside the snack shop spindling socks.  Across the way was the gift shop, with books on the shelves about the history of the museum and farm equipment.  “This is my favorite place to be,” said Larsen serenely.   At Christmas she donates 10 percent of her proceeds to the museum.

It was a nice way to spend a day with good country people.  Still, you had to pity the dogs, drooling and squealing as they writhed in the grass, tortured by the aroma of the chilidogs selling for $3.50 in the concession tent.  The wagging tails, the sloppy tongues, catching Frisbees or chasing tennis balls—all proved to be futile.  This was the day of the machines.        

The Waterloo Farm Museum is eager to welcome new members.  Those who are interested can call Ron Kaiser at 517-851-8745.  The museum is located at 13493 Waterloo-Munith Road in Grass Like.    

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