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Barry Schrader


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  • Daily Chronicle : DeKalb County Life

The Articles started December 2007.


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Recent Northern Illinois Farm Show a mixed bag

By Barry Schrader.................................January 14, 2009

Being a card-carrying member of the County Farm Bureau, I look forward to the local Northern Illinois Farm Show almost as much as I do the Chicago Auto Show. So I went with enthusiasm to see the latest products, kick some tires (I should wear steel-toed shoes) and sit inside the cab of a big tractor, such as a $250,000 Case Model 535 with four-wheel drive, and go “vroom, vroom” just like a kid. But there were no tractors around.

One thing I did find was not too pleasing: I was taking photos of booths at random and stumbled upon the Skoal “smokeless tobacco” tent. Immediately after snapping a photo the vendor scolded me, saying “No pictures of the tent.” When I showed him my press card, it was all downhill from there. “No press,” he growled, we don’t talk to the press,” as he stood in the doorway of the tent where somewhat youthful-looking farmers were apparently sampling his wares inside. Since I didn’t get to interview him or see his spread of tobacco product samples, I can’t say much positive about that exhibit. I only had one question for him anyway: “How many farmers catch cancer each year from using your products?” But I really didn’t expect an honest answer to that. So I contacted Susan Swartz, an American Cancer Society official, who readily provided me with the facts. This so-called smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukoplakia, tooth and bone loss in the mouth, plus bad breath and stained teeth. Not to mention an addiction to nicotine. If the sponsors of the Farm Show decide to allow this vendor back again next year, might I suggest they place the Kishwaukee Hospital table on one side to distribute literature on the dangers of cancer and the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company on the other side where tobacco users can buy health and life insurance.

Probably the only way to get through to young farmers who still use this form of tobacco, instead of sunflower seeds like the professional baseball players, is to have their mothers come down hard on them. So farm moms, it may be up to you to save your son from an agonizing bout with cancer and possible death at an early age.

On my way back out, I passed the Kish Hospital and Blue Cross booths, but refrained from asking their opinions of their fellow vendor, Skoal – the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, as I didn’t want to put them on the spot. But next year they should be prepared!

I was disappointed that there wasn’t some really big farm equipment to drool over. I did see one big truck cab and a giant Spray Coup 7000 series that salesman Rob Roben from Whole Good Sales said cost about $145,000, give or take a few hundred dollars.

The toy I would like to play with in my driveway was the Bobcat Skid-Steer Loader, which William Heinisch from CSR Bobcat in DeKalb showed me. They had a special show price of only $14,900 on the display model there and it would be fun to buzz around my neighborhood with that end loader and decimate some snowbanks …

The friendliest booth I came across was the Bath Fitter One-Day Bath Remodeling company with a cheery young woman named Rachel from Elgin staffing the exhibit. She even had some rubber duckies on display, but I didn’t bother asking for one.

I only take showers now at my age. But I was disappointed that I missed the booth giving out 1950s-era hula hoops. Most of the people walking out with them were obviously not going to swivel their hips but probably picked them up for a grandchild.

I looked for the usual free yardsticks, hot pads and kitchen mitts, but didn’t notice any. However, I will still return next year hoping to pick up some freebees and maybe kick some more tires.

But one suggestion for the show sponsors – get Dick Fowler, the super antique tractor collector from Genoa, to bring down some of his restored gems. It always helps to remind us of our childhood when we drove our first Allis-Chalmers or Minneapolis-Moline.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115