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Seeing Nebraska from the seat of a tractor

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Dozens of tractor enthusiasts took part in the 10th annual Tractor Relay Across Nebraska this June. We caught up with them as they pulled into Lake Minatare near Scottsbluff.

“This is my fourth time out here,” participant Kyle Petsch said. “2017, the year we went around the State Capitol, that was my first year. So, it’s fun being out in the western part of the state.”

Normally, the relay takes drivers to different locations across Nebraska. This year, they stayed centrally located in Scottsbluff and Gering, and branched out each day to visit sites like the Lake Minatare lighthouse. It’s one of only seven inland lighthouses in the country. “Scottsbluff National Monument was a big thing the other day, we were able to go up and see that, too,” Petsch said.

For many, the relay is a chance to see Nebraska. “I like history a lot,” participant Steven Fisher said. “I have been fascinated, especially out here, with the history. This is where the Oregon Trail came through. When you are driving it on a tractor and on highways, you think about the fact that people came through here on covered wagons. They didn’t have rubber tires. They had steel wheels, and they had to walk in the dirt, sand and rough terrain, and I just cannot imagine making that trek.”

As you might imagine, there’s plenty of sentimental value to a drive like this. “I have a 1946 Farmall H. That tractor has memories for me,” Fisher said. “When my brother and I were little, that was our reuse pit tractor, because we had three or four reuse pits. We would always help grandpa move the reuse pits. That was our thing we did when we were 8, 10, 12 years old. It has a lot of sentimental value for me.”

Some participants enjoy doing the drive with family. “If you have an interest in antique tractors, or farming, or anything like that, come out and enjoy this,” Petsch said. “I’m a younger guy, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s something that my dad and I are doing with some friends. We got to talk to a lot of people with a lot of experience out here.”

Not only are drivers seeing Nebraska on this tractor relay, they are experiencing it. “You get to see Nebraska in a way that not a lot of people get to see Nebraska,” Fisher said. “You get to see it at 12 miles an hour. The things you see when you go 12 miles an hour that you didn’t know were there, are absolutely unbelievable. I lived south of Brady and Maxwell my whole life, and the first two years we went down Highway 30, I saw things I didn’t know were there. I had no idea they were there because you go by them at 65 or 70 miles an hour, so you just don’t see them.”

The weather on this year’s relay was a little warm, but no one seemed to mind. And with proceeds going to support the cause called Operation Comfort Warriors, many of these men and women will no doubt be back again next year.

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