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'Johnny Poppers Club' Keeps Two-Cylinder Tradition Alive

'Johnny Poppers Club' Keeps Two-Cylinder Tradition Alive
A love of antique tractors brings Indiana residents together for philanthropy, fellowship

By Krista Morehouse

The Northern Indiana Johnny Poppers Club is an organization of members who enjoy John Deere two-cylinder antique tractors. Established in 1991, the club currently has approximately 85 members, according to Gary Riegsecker, the farm plot coordinator. Club members come from all across northern Indiana.

"Most of the members are from the Goshen-Warsaw area," says Riegsecker. "We have one guy that is from Michigan and one from Ohio."

The club began when Dennis Polk of Polk Equipment in New Paris, Ind., gathered a group of men to discuss an idea of starting this club.

Put Johnny through the paces: Charlie Gross chops stalks with this old-style John Deere.

Riegsecker is one of the co-founders who was included in the first meeting. After that meeting, everyone that was interested help start the club.

Recently, the club changed its name. They were previously known as the Northern Indiana Two-Cylinder Club. The club members now meet on the second Tuesday of every month.

Another event the club has along with meetings is its annual plow day. "We have an annual plow day in the spring and sometime in the fall," Riegsecker says. "It just depends on the weather."

The plow day allows the members with a two-cylinder tractor to spend a day in the field plowing with their antique equipment.  The club also participates in parades, tractor drives and tractor shows.

"Sometimes a group will go on a tractor drive," Riegsecker says. "They will drive their tractors for 15 miles or so."

Within the past five years, the club has started using its hobby to support the local community. Members plant and harvest a 60-acre cornfield farm plot just east of the intersection of U.S 6 and S.R. 15.Once harvest is done, Mike Morehouse of Morehouse Farms and a club member, markets the grain for the club. The profit is then divided and dispersed to local food banks, FFA chapters and societies.

"We have never given to individual people but that's not to say we never will," Riegsecker says.

In 2008, the club made a profit of $25,000 from their farm plot. They gave approximately $1,500 each to 13 food banks, three FFA chapters and one cancer society.

The club is always looking for people that share its passion and interest in antique two-cylinder equipment. To be involved, members pay an annual $20 fee.

"Anyone can join," Riegsecker says. "You don't have to have a tractor."

Morehouse is a Senior studying Agricultural Communications at Purdue University

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