North Iowa Tractor Ride rolls through area later this week

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Nearly 200 tractors will roll through the area later this week as part of the North Iowa Tractor Ride. The riders’ base will be at a fitting location: Froelich. 

“Because of our special history, they felt it was appropriate to come to where John Froelich invented the first gasoline tractor to propel itself forward and backward in 1892,” said Froelich Coordinator Denise Schutte.

“Froelich itself is very exciting. It’s a neat little community,” added tractor ride coordinator Jamie Nelson, who noted that this history, as well as the overall beauty of northeast Iowa, attracted the Mason City-based group for the 12th annual event. 

The North Iowa Tractor Ride, which Nelson said was formed as a salute to agriculture, will kick off Thursday afternoon, July 25, with rider sign-in at Froelich. 

“This will be the best time to see the tractors,” she said. “There will be a little bit of everything, but more of the vintage tractors.”

Drivers and riders largely come from the Midwest, but as far away as Louisiana, with many making the North Iowa Tractor Ride a vacation each year. 

“A lot are retired farmers or business people,” Nelson explained. “Some travel as families, and some go from ride to ride.”

Some of the participants drive their grandparents’ old tractors, she added, “so there are a lot of great memories.”

Friday morning, July 26, the tractors will hit the road, making their way from Froelich to Farmersburg, Gunder and Elgin, then on to Wadena and Elkader before heading back to base.

On Saturday, July 27, the ride will take a different route through Garnavillo, McGregor, Marquette and Monona. 

Riders will stop at certain points each day for refreshments.

Nelson acknowledged it can be difficult determining a route, so the ride can start and end at the same community. Organizers also take safety and fellow drivers into account.

“We take as many county roads as we possibly can,” she said. “On highways, we make sure there are wide shoulders so traffic can get around.”

Tractors will travel in four groups based upon their speed.

Schutte said it will be exciting to see all the tractors, especially when they’re gathered at Froelich. 

“It will attract people driving by, when they see all the tractors,” she remarked. 

The site will still remain open to the public for tours while the tractor riders are there, and she invites people to stop by and enjoy one of the attractions in their own backyard.

Schutte is also looking forward to showing Froelich to the North Iowa Tractor Ride participants.

“I’m excited to let them come and see and learn about the village and it’s significant history,” she stated. The Froelich 1890s Village Museum includes not just information about and replicas of the tractor, but the 1891 general store and post office, 1866 one room school house, warehouse and blacksmith shop, railroad depot, Jim Cowell’s semi display and the 1903 vintage barn.

“There’s a lot to be proud of in this area,” she continued, “and this brings tourism all throughout the area—places to lodge and eat, entertainment. They’ll have time to go and enjoy all it has to offer.”

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