The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

How Do You Feed 750 Hungry Tractor Enthusiasts

By: Misty Huston, The Quill

How do you get involved in feeding 750 hungry tractor enthusiasts? According to Jan Monville of the Henderson County Economical Development, someone like Janine Van Vark, account executive for the Des Moines-based WHO radio station and former Stronghurst resident, comes in and asks if you would like to be involved in the WHO Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride and you say yes and then the planning begins.

When I asked Jan, "How do you even begin to prepare food for so many people", she just laughed and said "that's what I asked at first". As usual in small communities you begin making phone calls, especially to your local churches and soon everyone is on board to help feed the hungry visitors.

Volunteers from six local churches including the Gladstone United Methodist, Oquawka United Methodist, Oquawka Faith Bible, Biggsville United Presbyterian, Biggsville United Methodist and Rozetta Baptist all worked together to provide a lunch to all the drivers and participants. Held at the VFW and the shelter house in the park, the menu consisted of grilled chicken breast, baked beans, chips, texas sheet cake and a drink. They were expecting to feed approximately 750 drivers and helpers in groups of 60-80 at a time.

Ladies from the various churches provided the texas sheet cakes and the chicken and beans were being prepared on site. With two large grills that cooked 40 chicken breast at a time each, large roasters full of beans, and lots of good help lined up Jan had no worries about the meal. She said, "It will go pretty fast, feeding that many people. We'll move them right through. I'm not worried about it one bit".

In addition to lunch, there was also a snack area set up at Twomey's, with bottled water, lemonade, gatorade and cookies, provided by the Carman and Stronghurst United Methodist Churches. Church members donated the drinks and the ladies were asked to bake cookies to help fulfill their need for 200 dozen cookies. The men were asked to volunteer to hand out the cookies and drinks and visit with the drivers and participants.

Tractor enthusiasts from across the United States began arriving in Burlington, Iowa on Sunday to participate in the WHO Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride. This annual event, held every summer, is a celebration of agriculture and a rural lifestyle.

Drivers from 14 states, some from as far away as Arizona, began their three day adventure on Monday, touring Iowa's and Illinois's magnificent landscape from an old iron seat. They traveled along at an average speed of 12 miles per hour as they followed the ride's cloverleaf-shaped course.

On Wednesday the ride's route brought the drivers and their machines to our very own little town of Gladstone. This is the first time since the ride began that they have crossed over into Illinois and inlcuded our state in this event.

The first tractors and drivers were estimated to start arriving in Gladstone at around 10:45 a.m. with the last of them arriving around 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday. To minimize highway traffic jams, the tractors are placed in groups according to their speed and then sent out in intervals of 30-45 minutes.

Drivers were eager to visit Gladstone and head down to Twomey's to watch a barge being loaded.