Red Power Roundup in Huron celebrates with 20,000 people

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Farm Forum

How many people do you know who take their tractors with them on vacation? For some antique tractor enthusiasts, it’s a great way to see another part of the country as well as feed their passion for the International brand. The Red Power Roundup in Huron last week brought people from across the country to the South Dakota State Fairgrounds to enjoy three days of admiring tractors, visiting with friends and sharing stories.

According to organizer Steve Masat of Redfield, 20,000 people attended the event with 904 exhibitors. People came from 45 states, 4 Canadian provinces and 6 foreign countries.

“I can’t say enough good about the welcome extended by Huron and the people of South Dakota,” he said. “The community support was off the charts. The visitors were impressed with the red tractors situated on street corners, on roads, welcoming them to our state. And the businesses and signs throughout the area were fantastic.”

The availability of the Beef Barn on the fairgrounds exceeded anything that the club has been able to use for its events in the last 24 years, Masat said. There were 500 campers registered at the Fairgrounds.

The Schmidt family from Janesville, Iowa, brought their two Cubbie tractors to the show. They have 26 antique tractors at home and plan their vacations around the annual traveling show. Daughters Jordan, 8, and Jessica, almost 4, were most intrigued with the Pink Tractors, especially the one with eyelashes. The paint job on some of the machines was a tribute to those battling breast cancer.

“It’s a great time,” Julie Schmidt said. “We’ve seen people from Texas, Canada, England and many other places. Every show is like getting together with family, you all look out for each other.”

Maneuvering through tourist attractions with antique equipment on trailers is not an easy task. One woman from Indiana thought it was wonderful that the South Dakota State Fairgrounds was the site for this year’s event. She said, “We could feel secure leaving our tractors there and venturing off to see the beautiful Black Hills.”

Emmett Webb, membership secretary for the International Harvesters Collectors organization, came to Huron from Dublin, Indiana. He said the total membership is about 7,800 worldwide. He didn’t bring a tractor along, but he did bring his enthusiasm for all things red. And, yes, he does restore tractors. In fact, he has the first tractor he ever drove, a 1935 F-112 with steel wheels. “And yes, everyone here bleeds red,” he said with a chuckle.

This was an event that Jill Schmig and her three children couldn’t miss. The youngest, Grayson, was only 8-days-old and proudly wearing a T-shirt that read, “If it ain’t red, leave it in the shed.” Schmig said her husband Derek has 5 or 6 tractors that he’s restoring, and the kids have all sorts of tractors and toys marked with the International symbol.

The displays ranged from the early 1900s through modern day equipment. Roger Chase and Derick Chase, who farm just outside of Huron, praised the event while checking out a present-day CIH planter. They came for the day to enjoy the show. Roger said, “I think it was really great and just wish more people would have attended.” He said having the show in town inspired him to restore a tractor before the event.

State Fair Manager Jerome Hertel was pleased. “I think things went very well,” Hertel said. “It was hard to know what to expect, but it really felt like the Fair, meaning the State Fair. The Midway was filled with people and there was lots of activity.” He praised the organizers and said it was a really nice event with great weather for the three days.

In the Arts and Women’s buildings, a crowd inspected quilt displays and samples of some of the early equipment used in kitchens across the country. Charlene Beeson of Wagner appreciated the appliances and wondered how energy efficient they would be considered in today’s world.

Serving in a dual role, Paul Johnson, SDSU Extension Specialist from Watertown, manned the Antique Machinery display, sponsored by the Ag Heritage Museum. He said the event also fed his hobby of enjoying antique tractors of all colors.

He noted that South Dakotans love to drive their tractors in a parade, and it was fun to see those from other states join in. Bleachers were set up along the streets. There was a parade each of the three days of the event, and the antique machines circled the Fairgrounds, celebrating another era.

The activity also provided a look at some of the antique machinery showcased at the Ag Heritage Museum in Brookings. Johnson said, “From looking at the displays here, it sounds like quite a few will be stopping to check things out on their way back east.”

One lady from Kentucky stopped one of the organizers to tell them how nice it was to have the grass areas and roads. She noted that unless you’ve organized such an event, you don’t know how much work goes into the preparation work. “South Dakota can be really proud.”

Sunday afternoon, as the show wound down, organizer Masat said it exceeded any of his expectations. He said, “Thank you to all who helped and made it a great event.”