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Vintage tractors set to roll

This year’s ride mixes in wine, jazz and some Lincoln history

Published: Thursday, June 6, 2013 10:36 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Herald File Photo)
Those interested in getting an up-close look at the tractors involved in this year’s Heritage Tractor Adventure will have to head west to Streator, Ottawa, Sheridan or Pontiac, instead of simply making their way to the Grundy County Fairground, as this event participant did last year. The annual ride, which begins Friday evening in Streator, does not include Morris, nor Grundy County, on the tour this year.

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. — Whether it’s seeing a 120-tractor parade, hearing stories from farmers driving them, or doing something new in a local town, there are many reasons to add the 12th Annual Heritage Tractor Adventure to this weekend’s Fun To Do list.

From classic Kodak moments to memory-making for multiple generations, there is something for everyone during the June 7-10 event, according to its coordinator, Mary Beth DeGrush.

The Vice President of the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau, DeGrush has organized the event since its inception. She is eager to see local and out-of-town visitors join the great family atmosphere that the annual vintage tractor pilgrimage provides.

“We’re really excited to be basing the event in Streator,” said DeGrush of the event that will bypass Morris and Grundy County for one of the few times in its history.

“I hope everyone takes time to visit the towns along the Adventure while taking part in this fun and festive event.”

Nearly 130 tractors are registered this year. In past years, drivers have come from as far as California and Canada, which is likely to be the case again.

For spectators, there are many unique options for enjoyment and entertainment. Walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln as the tractors stop in downtown Ottawa’s historic Washington Square on Friday, June 7, which also marks the first night of the Two Rivers Wine, Jazz and Lobster Festival (www.ottawa2riverswinefest.com).

People of all ages and interests will find something to love at the Spirit Family Farm (www.spiritfarms.com) in Sheridan on Saturday, which the tractor drivers will stop to enjoy good old-fashioned farming, or you can fill up the tank and head to Pontiac to see and hear the Route 66 Radio Tour and visit the Route 66 Museum on Sunday.

Open to the public, the tractor trip offers arranged meals for purchase in advance, allowing participants a convenient and affordable way for visitors to mingle with drivers and learn about the vintage tractors. Meals will be provided by, and benefit, local community organizations, including Rotary clubs and FFA.

The event is supported by local communities along the route, and the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau is thankful for the cooperation of Streator Mayor Jimmie Langsford and Councilman Ed Brozak. Officials in Sheridan and Pontiac have also been working on routes, providing access and welcoming the tractors, drivers and visitors.

“It’s a win-win for the areas that we can draw attention to local businesses, cultural and historic attractions,” said DeGrush.

She applauds the volunteer support of WGN-AM agriculture reporters Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson, who will once again provide entertainment, storytelling and overall event support. Sponsors of the Heritage Tractor Adventure include FS and Growmark, city of Streator, city of Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois Farm Bureau, Richard A. Olson & Associates, and Bill Walsh Automotive.

The tractor schedule is as follows:

Friday, June 7 – Tractors register and line up in Streator, then take route to Ottawa in the evening, where they will be at Washington Square and stay overnight.

Saturday, June 8 – Drivers head to Sheridan for visit to Spirit Farm in the afternoon. Evening activities commence in Streator.  The City Park’s new Ralph Plumb bandshell will play host to the always entertaining WGN-AM duo of Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson. Samuelson will be participating in a signing for newly-released book, “You Can’t Dream Big Enough.”

Sunday, June 9 – Tractors, drivers and spectators meet at Pontiac’s Livingston County Courthouse Square.  Tours of Route 66 Museum, and a live broadcast of the Route 66 Mother Road Tour will take place.

Monday, June 10 – Event closes with awards ceremony at Mona’s Italian Restaurant in Toluca, celebrating 80 years of fine food.

Information on this year’s Heritage Tractor Adventure can be found at www.heritagetractoradventure.com, or by calling 866.6.TRACTOR (872-2867).

For information about the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau, and current events and member listings, call 800.926.CANAL (2262), or go to www.heritagecorridorcvb.com.

The Heritage Tractor Adventure, coordinated by the Heritage Corridor CVB, always welcomes volunteers and relies on sponsorship. Those interested in supporting this and upcoming Tractor Adventures are encouraged to contact HTA Coordinator Mary Beth DeGrush at (630) 226-1764.

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