It has been a very busy summer. There were 14 CIGC members in attendance at the Morris Tractor Ride. It was 3 days of very warm travel in the Morris, Gardner and Marseilles area. It was really a lot of fun to reacquaint ourselves with old friends from the Heritage Tractor Ride especially Mary Beth and Max. The scenery was good, the food was great and the tour of “D” Construction was impressive.
I believe there were 19 members in attendance at the Covered Bridge Ride in Rockville, In. Joe Warters and crew put on another amazing tour of the area. The weather was perfect, the route took us to some new places and some old, and the food was its usual best. At one stop the 4H moms made 22 pies for our lunch. You name the fruit, it was there and so good. If you look, I already have the dates for next year. See you there.
OTFS is already in the books. There were a lot of CIGC tractors and members in attendance. Thanks everyone for helping with the trailer. We sold a few things, and socialized a lot. I will bring it to the next meeting just in case you need a new shirt or hat. OTFS appeared to be successful and the tractor pull was a big hit. We only had a few players for the Tractor Games but Les, Dave and few others had a little fun too.
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If you know me, then you know I am always interested in the How and the Why. So, traveling on the Morris Tractor Ride it occurred to me that the first Heritage Tractor Adventure had a profound effect on me and many others. The first ride was the brainchild of Max Armstrong and Mary Beth DeGrush. It was something new at least in Illinois and provided the place for a group of people to cement relationships that have now lasted more than 15 years. Out of those relationships John and Nancy Evans became friends with Sue and Joe Warters. John and Nancy on invitation went the Rockville, IN area to a show that Sue and Joe had told them about. Not long after the HTR there began talk about a new club being formed by John and Nancy. By Laws were written and by the end of 2002 Central Illinois Green Club was born.
Upon returning from the HTA, I decided it was about time we got the Evans’ story. Here is what I learned in their own words.
Nancy Evans grew up in Kankakee the eldest of five. Worked at St. Mary’s and Riverside Health Equipment. My retirement dream was to learn how to quilt. After joining the Quiltmakers of Kankakee it became my passion and the heart of my soul. John grew up on the Evans Family Centennial farm his grandfather purchased on September 25, 1900. Farming all his life along with many city jobs he retired from Azzarelli Construction in 1994, continued farming until January 1st 2017. During his Herscher High School Days working for Wheeler Tractor & Equipment in Kankakee he always dreamed of owning the John Deere numbered series built in the 50’s. Married in Las Vegas in 1990 we began our dreams. We have four children, yours (Mary Beth & John Jr.) mine (Jim) and ours(Julie), Eight grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. It took me three years to make my first quilt and twelve years for John to gather those Deere’s. Along John’s journey he’s collected IH, Allis Chalmers, Ferguson, and added a few garden tractors to his collection. We have traveled the United States looking for those JD’s and have made many friends at the Farm Shows across the US and Canada. Over the last 27 years we have rode in many tractor rides and parades. Our most memorable was the first Heritage Tractor Adventure when Max Armstrong asked us to be two of the 20 antique tractors leading the ride and riding the Chicago Land Speedway track with the JD 80 and the JD40 Utility. We have made the greatest friends of all in this Central Illinois Green Club.
I asked what was the best trip or vacation? I got a multiple answer. John said Ireland, Nancy said the summer they traveled from Key West to Seattle then on to San Diego. They talked about Stage Coach Races, they talked about a Tractor trip to Canada where no one spoke English but yet they were able to get their ideas across. They have driven to all 48 lower states and flew to Alaska and Hawaii. John says the “Best trip is the next one.” Nancy says “We really enjoyed it (tractors) and making friends for 15 years this November. We never dreamed it would become as big as it is.”
So, what if Max and Mary Beth never had the first HTA? What if Nancy and John had not met Joe and Sue? What if John and Nancy had not had signed on to create the Central Illinois Green Club? The next time you see John and Nancy ask them for a story, tractors or not. I’ll bet they have some more good ones. Thanks for what you both have done. I have a lot of good friends past and present because of you both.