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Walking back in time at Husker Harvest DaysWalking back in time at Husker Harvest Days

Show organizers will offer a glimpse at farm machinery from 40 years ago.

Curt Arens

May 2, 2017

2 Min Read
LOOKING BACK: HHD guests have become accustomed in recent years to being greeted along Flag Road at the main entrance by antique tractors and farm machinery. Visitors at this year’s show should feel like they’re going back to the 1970s.

Who knew how things would turn out when Husker Harvest Days organizers first gathered in fall 1977 to lay the groundwork for a gigantic outdoor farm show west of Grand Island that would open one year later in 1978?

Now, 40 years later, HHD has grown into the world's largest totally irrigated working farm show. That means that this fall's edition of HHD will be something special. As part of the 40th anniversary celebration for HHD, A.J. Boehler, Hastings, who organizes the antique farming equipment displays each year, along with several of his friends, have something unique in mind. As a member of the Platte Valley Antique Tractor and Machinery Association and the Central Nebraska Antique Tractor and Machinery Association, Boehler owns several restored antique tractors and a restored Ford pickup that he bought new in 1975. Putting that passion for antique farm machinery to work, Boehler and his group are planning to develop a special display along Flag Road at the main entrance of HHD between gates 2 and 3. So when visitors walk onto the show grounds from the parking lot, it will be as if they stepped back in time to 1978.

They are currently in the process of searching for vintage 1978 equipment that will adorn the HHD entrance road, so visitors this year will be treated to a true look at the past of agriculture before they take in everything that is new at the show. "There has really been a lot of interest from the antique tractor clubs around the state," Boehler says. "Just as an example of some of the unique items that are coming up, we will have an old electric Allis-Chalmers salesman combine display that a salesman would have taken along with him when visiting dealerships," he explains. "It is about 2 feet by 2 feet in size, and it lights up, showing farmers and dealers how grain would flow through a self-propelled combine. It's really a neat item."

Boehler says the location for the antique farming displays at HHD is perfect. "People can walk past the history of farming and see where we've been," he adds. "The old tractors and equipment bring back memories for most people, and the younger folks enjoy seeing that machinery, too." If you know of vintage 1978 farm equipment that would be available for display at HHD, you can contact Boehler at 760-861-3941.



About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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