Many of you have listened to Max Armstrong on the radio, or now on TV. His distinctive voice has kept farm families up to date on Midwest agriculture for decades. His hobby — collecting and driving old Farmall tractors — has helped promote the Half Century of Progress Show for many years.
Armstrong will be at this year’s show. Join him in Rantoul, Ill., at the former Chanute Air Force Base, where the show is staged every time the Farm Progress Show is in Decatur. He suggests making it a vacation before harvest. Attend the Half Century of Progress Show Aug. 22-25; then make the short drive to the Farm Progress Show Aug. 27-29.
Here are 10 things you should know about the Half Century of Progress Show:
1. How did the show get its name? The first Half Century of Progress Show was held in 2003 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary Farm Progress Show near Henning, Ill. It was a one-day event held on Sunday before FPS. Ironically, the Half Century Show, held just across the road from FPS, enjoyed good weather, while FPS enjoyed one fantastic day and then was rained out. That two-day rainout helped propel the idea of semi-permanent sites for FPS.
2. What are show hours? Gates open at 7 a.m. CT and close at dusk, except for Thursday, Aug. 22, and Saturday, Aug. 24, when they close after the tractor pulls.
3. What does it cost to attend? Gate admission is $15 per adult each day or $30 for a four-day pass. Children 12 years and younger are admitted free.
4. Can I bring a golf cart or an ATV? Yes, but a $30 tag is required; it’s good for the entire show. You may also rent a golf cart by calling 866-275-2742. Bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds are not permitted on the grounds.
5. Are there rules for driving on the grounds? A 5-mph speed limit applies to all vehicles, including golf carts, ATVs and tractors. You must be 16 years old to drive any vehicle on the grounds, including tractors.
6. Can I bring my own tractor and implement to work at the show? Yes. You need to register your tractor at Hangar 2 on the grounds when you arrive, officials note. They remind everyone that because so many people want to display and demonstrate their equipment, everyone needs to be patient as they wait for their turn to make a pass. And remember, it’s not a race — there is no need for speed at this show. If you’re going to operate your equipment in the field, you must attend a morning or afternoon safety training session in Hangar 2.
7. Is camping permitted at the show? Dry camping is available at PBJ RV Trailer Storage, 101 W. Keal, Rantoul. It’s northwest of the front gate or two blocks east of U.S. 45. Spaces are $20 per night, weather permitting. For details, call or text Phillip Davis at 217-799-7775. Other commercial campgrounds are nearby.
8. Will the large American flag be flown again this year? Yes, that’s the plan. Flag raising for America’s largest flying flag begins each morning at 8 a.m. CT. The flagpole is 225 feet tall and extends 25 feet below ground. It includes 167 cubic feet of concrete in the base. The pole itself costs $45,000 to erect. Flag teams travel with the flag to various events to raise money for veterans’ projects.
9. When are the field demonstrations? They are slated for 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 24, and 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 25. All schedules are subject to change.
10. Where can I learn more? The official website of the Half Century of Progress Show is halfcenturyofprogress.com. The homepage even features a countdown clock showing days, hours, minutes and seconds until the show begins. The website also contains information about the tractor ride held at Rantoul in conjunction with the show on opening day.