Farm Progress

Hard-core visitors of Husker Harvest Days

Wood River, Neb., farmers have attended HHD for 40 years and assist yearly with antique machinery display.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

September 19, 2017

2 Min Read
SHOW-GOERS: A.J. Boehler, Hastings (left) attended the first show and several since then, and Don Uhrich, Kenny Layher and Howard Uhrich, all of Wood River, Neb., have attended every single show. The group posed for a photo in front of a 1978 John Deere 4040 at this year's show.

There are many farmers who have attended each and every Husker Harvest Days over the past 40 years. If you attended the 40th version of HHD this past fall, you had only to visit the antique farming machinery display along South Shuttle Road on the HHD grounds to meet three farmers who have attended each and every show.

Don Uhrich was one of the farmers who drove a tractor and disk in the fall of 1977 in preparation for the first show in the fall of the following year. Don, along with brother Howard, and Kenny Layher, all from Wood River, Neb., are among those who have attended every show.

Helping A.J. Boehler from Hastings with organizing and working at the antique machinery display at HHD, the group of farmers said that antique machines have been a part of the show for the past 30 years.

Although he hasn't attended every show, Boehler, too, attended the first HHD as a sales representative for Sieb Inc., a Sutton, Neb., company that marketed anhydrous ammonia converters. At this year's HHD, Boehler and his group developed a special display along the South Shuttle Road between the parking lot and the southeast corner of the show site, so when visitors walked along that road, it was as if they had stepped back in time to 1978.

Boehler's group searched high and low for vintage 1978 equipment that adorned HHD, so visitors this year would be treated to a true look at agriculture’s past before they take in everything that is new at the show. This year's show included an International Harvester 1978 model 3388 four-wheel-drive 2+2 tractor that was innovative at the time to 4-wd tractors because it had the cab located behind the articulation point. They also had several 1978 John Deere models, including the popular 4040. But the most historically interesting items were not that flashy. The display included the same tractors and disks used to prepare the original show site before the first HHD show.

Howard Uhrich says that over the past 40 years, farm machinery has changed. "The biggest change is probably the fact that you now have tractors that can drive themselves" with autosteer, he says.

"Plus, all the machinery is so much bigger," Don Uhrich adds.

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."

Of course, the display always exhibits dozens of antique tractors of all brands and colors, but this year's HHD focused strongly on the equipment that was turning 40 years old. Even the harvest demonstrations at HHD were kicked off with a 1978 John Deere 7700 series combine and a 1978 International Harvester 1460 Axial-Flow combine.



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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