Touch-A-Tractor event combines education, fun
What if you could climb aboard a powerful tractor and find out how it works?
This weekend at the Kane County Farm Bureau, you can do that and more during the 11th annual Touch-A-Tractor event to be held April 8 -- 10 at Oak Street and Randall Road in St. Charles.
It's a free family event open to the public.
"The Kane County Farm Bureau started it really just as an open house for the community," said Steve Arnold, manager. "It's an opportunity for people to learn more about farming and where their food comes from."
During the event, kids can hold a baby chick, look at old and modern farm equipment, shell corn, visit the farm zoo, and ride on pedal tractors. If they like the ride, kids 8 and under can enter the free drawing to win a pedal tractor of their own. If they bring in a nonperishable food item, they'll double their chances of winning.
"We want people to have a good time and support the foundation, but also support the community and people less fortunate through this hunger relief donation," Arnold said.
Throughout the weekend, antique tractors, including a 1913 Port Huron Steam Traction Engine -- a steam powered tractor -- will be on display. The machine is owned by longtime Kane County Farm Bureau member Tom Runty of Maple Park.
"It was a train that was adapted to run in the fields as opposed to running on a track," said Runty, who is a retired educator. "It took five years to restore it, and of all the tractors, mine will be the oldest."
In addition to the tractors on display, visitors can enter to win a tractor by purchasing tickets for the 2016 Winner's Choice Tractor Raffle. The winner gets to choose from a 1953 Farmall SuperC or 1947 Farmall Super A tractor, a John Deere riding lawn mower, or $2,500 cash. Second prize is $500 in groceries; third prize is $500 in fuel; and fourth prize is $250 in Farm Bureau Bucks. Tickets will be sold for $10 each or 3 for $25, and the drawing will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m.
The money raised from the raffle supports literacy programs for students of all ages and provides college scholarships for students pursuing careers in the food and farm sectors.
On Sunday afternoon, the Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation will announce 16 college scholarship recipients and hold a ceremony for them. Over the years, the scholarships have aided students in obtaining an education in a variety of agricultural disciplines from production and education to marketing and veterinary science.
"Last year we gave out 25 scholarships," Arnold said. "The foundation has been around for 25 years so we have graduates working in agricultural careers all around the region and in various places in the country."
The Touch-A-Tractor event also will feature fun balloon animals, face painting and a roving "Moogician," a magician dressed a cow-themed costume. Kids can watch a movie and enjoy books, puzzles and games, including the Kuipers Farm Apple Pickin' Ramblin' Race.
"The kids are challenged to race and pick apples off a mock apple tree," Arnold explained. "The apples are stuck on the tree with Velcro."
Kids will have the unique opportunity to sit in a tractor, according to farmer Beth Gehrke, who raises corn, soybean, wheat and hay in Plato Township.
"Kids get into cars and trucks all the time and they see tractors in fields, but they don't have the opportunity to sit in them," Gehrke said. "That aspect of it is probably what draws the kids."
Gehrke will be volunteering at the event at the baby chick station. She and other farmers, representing the diverse farming community of Kane County, will be on hand to answer questions.
"It really is a great opportunity to communicate with consumers about agriculture, about what they're eating, and they get to see some of this equipment and animals, and just have fun," Gehrke said. "It's a great day to get out with the kids."
Where to find it
Since mapping software can't always find the Kane County Farm Bureau, Arnold suggests looking for the Farm Bureau at Randall Road and Oak Street in St. Charles in front of the Costco.
"We have one of those addresses that if you Google it, it will send you to the wrong place," he said.
The event runs noon to 4 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Visit www.kanecfb.com or call (630) 584-8660 for details.
If you goIf you go: 11th annual Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation Touch-A-Tractor
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 8-10
Where: Kane County Farm Bureau, 2N710 Randall Road, St. Charles
Details: www.kanecfb.com or (630) 584-8660