Pine Island tractor driving coming to West Concord
One-hundred-fifty tractors will be leading the big parade from Pine Island to West Concord on Sunday, Aug. 21.
This will be the 11th annual “Tractor Drive” sponsored by the Pine Island Lions, said Dean Weis, one of the drive organizers.
The drive always starts in Pine Island, he said, but tries to take a different route each year. The group has never made the trek to West Concord, he said.
In the past they have gone to Kasson, Mantorville, Mazeppa, Zumbrota and towards Rochester.
West Concord was originally on the schedule for last year but County Road 24 was under construction, he said, and the organizers like to keep the route on paved roads.
This year, however, they will be making their way to West Concord, arriving at the Boe Auto Center about noon. The tractors will be on display there and the Pine Island Lions will also be preparing lunch for both drivers and the public.
They will be at Boe for about an hour-and-a-half, Weis said, and visitors are invited to come a take a look at the tractors and talk to the owners.
“This is the 11th year,” Weis said. “We’ve a bunch of tractor enthusiasts, mostly farmers and retired farmers.
About 10 or 15 years ago, he said, a lot of people started restoring their old tractors. A “hardcore dozen guys” started the event, he said. The first year it was just an opportunity for people to get together and drive their tractors. “Just go for an afternoon jaunt,” he said.
The tractor drive grew, he said, and is now sponsored by the Pine Island Lions Club and is one of the club’s fundraising events.
There is a registration fee or the drivers and a charge to the public for the lunch, he said.
They try to make the round-trip about 30 miles, he said, and always stay on paved roads.
Drivers take several breaks during the day and always try to find a place to stop for their noon meal.
The stops always generate a lot of interest from the public and visitors are welcome to have lunch with the group “as long as the food holds out.” The Lions Club plans to feed about 300 people, Weis said, so that should not be a problem.
In addition to the noon stop, the group will stop at the Milton Town Hall for coffee and donuts somewhere between 9 and 9:30. They will also take an afternoon break at the Berne Church in Old Concord.
They head out at about 8 a.m. on Sunday morning and before they leave Pine Island every tractor drives through the parking lot at Pine Haven Care Center so the residents can come out and view the tractors.
This year’s route, he said, will have the caravan leaving Pine Island on Goodhue County 27 to Dodge County 11 and the break at Milton Town Hall. They will then continue on County 11 to County 22 into Old Concord. From there they will take County 24 into West Concord and Boe Auto Center where they will park and display the tractors on the field just north of the building.
The return ride will take County Road 24 to the Berne Church and then back to Pine Island. They expect to arrive back in Pine Island about 3 p.m., he said.
That many tractors traveling at about 12 or 13 miles an hour will stretch a long way down the road, Weis said, and they plan for breaks between groups of tractors so vehicles can pass the tractors or cross intersections.
Local law enforcement will also be involved as t