More than 30 tractors lined up to leave the Johnson County fairgrounds in Franklin as part of the 4th annual Indiana FFA tractor drive. It's sponsored by the Indiana FFA FOudnaiton, with help from Indiana Prairie Farmer and Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind.
The purpose is to raise money for the FFA. The drive will probably net the Indiana FFA Foundation around $1,500 for use in support in the Indiana FFA Association and the Indiana FFA Leadership Center at Trafalgar. Drivers who participate pay to be in the drive.
This year's tractor total was by far the most tractors to participate in the drive. It was the brainchild of Tim Newcomb, who four years ago was on the Indiana FFA Foundation Board. He was looking for a way to get kids more involved in supporting their own organization, and increase awareness of the public about ag and FFA.
One of the benefits of the drive has been friendships formed between the drivers. Kerry 'Goose' Graves hauled his tractor to Franklin from Bloomfield to be part of the drive for the fourth year in a row. One reason he comes is to see people he's come to know and enjoy talking with, even if it's only once a year.
This year's drive consisted of about 40 miles, and stayed within Johnson County,. It took the riders past the Indiana Masonic Home and parts of historic Camp Atterbury. The active U.s. Army Base between Franklin and Columbus is the leaving and returning point for a number of troops headed overseas. Part of the former Atterbury area is now used by the Indiana Fish and Wildlife division. Another part has been developed into the Johnson County park.
The Johnson County soil and water conservation district was instrumental in starting the process to obtain the land for a county park in the mid-70's. The land is deeded to Johnson County government, with the SWCD also on the deed. However, the government has the right to retake the land if it becomes necessary again for military uses.
Riders also stopped at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center for results. President of the Indiana FFA Foundation Board, Matt Rekeweg, originally form Allen County, welcomed the group over lunch, and thanked them for their efforts. The final stop was at the Union Christian Church in Johnson County before the drivers returned to home base at the fairgrounds in Franklin.