I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Tractor Show is all about Middle America
By Barry Schrader.................................July
he provides more than 110 broadcast outlets nationwide
with his agriculture-related programming through satellite, web-based
and commercial TV and radio stations. But he still does the 5
a.m. show with Orion Samuelson every Saturday.
Thank God Im a Country Girl was neatly
lettered on the side of a blazing pink 1945 Case tractor in the
10th annual Waterman Tractor Show on Saturday.
It was one of the many antique and lovingly restored tractors
in the procession around Lions Park, and was driven by a young
woman named Kelly Zachary of Ottawa. Her brother drove another
restored Case behind her in the parade. Their family came away
with one of the top prizes of the day the Speakers
Choice Award for their collection of old Case tractors
Declared an outstanding success
by Lions committeeman Leonard Johnson, the show was crowded with
farm machinery on display as well as vendors and throngs of people.
Much of the credit should go to orchard owner and beekeeper Steve
Bock who has chaired the annual event since its inception.
The highlight of my day was getting to interview
the event's celebrity announcer, Max Armstrong, who with Orion
Samuelson has done the "Morning Show" on WGN radio
for some 30 years. Now that Max has become Director of Broadcasting
for Farm Progress,
Kelly Zachary dazzled the parade crowd with her blazing
pink Case tractor.Max Armstrong, at right, was the celebrity tractor parade
announcer. At left is Waterman Lions president Harold Giddings.
wouldnt speculate on what Orions retirement plans
might be when he reaches his 50th year milestone in September
at WGN but says he hopes they at least get to continue their
show together for years to come. Speaking fondly of his longtime
radio partner, Max said, His role at WGN has been legendary.
There is no one in a major (media) market in America on a big
city radio station who has done as much to educate the non-farmer
about this business of farming. But as Waterman Lions announcer
Tony North said, Max has also "carried the torch for American
agriculture on the airwaves for three decades."
what he saw in the future for Americas farms Max said:
I am confident that the family farmer will still play a
Its not going to look like it does today
or back 50 years ago; we are becoming more productive all the
The farm families are certainly getting more progressive
and aggressive and up-to-date with all the new technologies that
are taking place.
"I like what I see in the
next generation. We are finding bright young minds who are staying
involved in family agriculture. But what we have to remember
as a nation is to let our agricultural industry operate without
being entangled in too much regulation. I worry about that.
Then he added, It seems our lawmakers dont get it.
We need to appreciate and prize our lawmakers who represent
our rural areas, and (motioning toward state Rep. Robert Pritchard,
who was standing nearby) those who understand the needs of agriculture
and support for education as Bob does.
question I had, what about the loss of good farm land? Max replied,
Ive been bothered by this but understand why it is
happening. I fly with Orion over the Chicago area and see all
those vacant lots and wonder why they dont build on those.
It bothers me a lot when we pave over good productive farmland
because I know it is never to be in production again. I
also fear the loss of some of the richest crop-growing soil in
the country and dont know an easy answer how to save it
for future generations to be farmed.
among the tractor show enthusiasts, the crafts and arts booths,
and farm equipment on display, it made me feel good to be in
middle America with its wholesomeness, the hard-working families
taking the day off, and so many folks exuding patriotism. On
the way home I stopped at the nearest sweet corn stand and bought
some for our table. What a great life!
The columnist can be reached via email at :
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PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115