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Do you ever wonder why our ride runs so smooth? Here is the reason.

The Second Annual Harold King Memorial Tractor Ride was held on Saturday June 3, 2017. This year the ride team and myself are glad to announce that we had 24 Tractors, 27 Participants, 3 dedicated kitchen helpers and over 10 of Harold’s beloved family members present.

While the day started off beautiful, it did get a little warm out after our noon meal, all of which was homemade. Kirk Langner, Harold’s grandson made his mouth watering pulled pork, while Harold’s wife Marilyn made a variety of salads, and homemade bars for dessert.

This year’s ride was 53 miles, many of which were on gravel roads, but we did have some paved roads as well. We once again passed through 4 counties, Sac, Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, and back to Sac. The route truly showed us some of God’s handiwork.

While the tractor ride ran pretty smoothly, other than one breakdown which was shortly fixed by fellow riders and some crew members, a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work has to be done to make our ride run as smoothly as what it does.

Planning this ride is NOT easy. The following are some of the preparations to make this specific ride happen.

The first step is to figure out a date and a rain date. Included in this step are also deciding a registration fee, reviewing our ride forms, figuring out what the registration fee includes (i.e. the cooler this year was included with the fee), typing and sending out forms to the previous years’ participants, and advertising. This all leads to our next step, which is the initial contact of local organizations.

The second step is to contact the local Sheriffs departments and Iowa State Patrol, as well as the County Engineers and the Iowa Department of Transportation, and sometimes even some town governments as well. The initial contact is to let these organizations know that there is an upcoming tractor ride, and to find out if there is any road construction that our crew needs to be aware of when starting the process of planning the route.

Thirdly, is the planning and organization of the route. This is probably one of the hardest jobs in organizing a ride. After the rough draft of the route is finished, it is passed along to the rest of our crew members to get input on it, and from there, if there are no objections, it gets sent to all of the organizations listed above. This year we were glad to have the route approved after the first rough draft… while last year, we couldn’t get so lucky and had to make four different routes before finally getting it approved.

The U.S. Highway 20 construction project as well as U.S. Highway 20 detour on D15 makes creating a route quite difficult. Before the route is even planned, we have to come up with 3 places, one for a morning rest stop, one for our noon meal, and the third one being a tour/rest stop in the afternoon.

Sometimes when mapping out the route, Google Maps will show roads that aren’t actually there in real life, so you have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to join the two sections of the route. After the route is driven by the ride team and finalized, it then gets sent out to all of the organizations listed above.

The next step is to prepare the menu for lunch, decide on what refreshments are going to be available for the morning registration and stop, and going shopping for the selected items. Preparing the bars and the noon meal.

We are now down to less than a week before the ride. While we are all scrambling to get everything gathered and finish some last minute things such as: washing the tractor(s) and the trolley, cleaning the tractor ride signs, staking out the route, making sure the King Farm looks nice, and being on the radio.

The day is finally here, up early to make sure we are ready for the big day. We set up the registration tables, make coffee, put direction signs up and get all of our other ducks in a row… and as soon as you know it registration is over, we say our morning prayer and off we go! This is when all the stress sits in. This stress is unbelievable. You are now in charge of the safety of at least 20 tractors and up to 30 people.

This year we worked closely with the Iowa State Patrol. The designated trooper did an outstanding job of helping Jeff and myself make sure the major crossings and merges were safe… and sure good thing he was there. We had a person going at the speed of 71 miles per hour at one of the intersections where tractors had already started crossing. Talk about being in a nervous wreck.

We also worked closely with the Ida County Sheriffs Department. We were so grateful to them and the State Trooper for shutting down the Main Street and East Second Street intersection, even when we were running late because of a break down. They also shut down the intersection on Main Street just before Kofmehl Drive so the tractors could get off Main Street (Highway 59) safely. It is now time for lunch.

After a short lunch break, we were back on the road to our next stop, which was supposed to be a tour, but ended up just being a rest stop. After our afternoon rest stop, we hit the road again for the last leg of the ride. The days ends with an overall feeling of thankfulness and gratitude, but just because the ride is over doesn’t mean the work is done.

The next day we go out and pick the steaks up. We put everything back in storage, and believe it or not, we even start talking about the following years ride. A total of over 200 hours of preparation and dedication make this ride as great as what it is! We are always looking forward to meeting new people and seeing familiar faces on the next ride!

Kirk Langner

Harold King Memorial Tractor Ride Coordinator

Admin of Midwest Tractor Ride Website/Facebook Page

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