By Pete Hanebutt, NDFB Director of Public Policy
One of the true joys of living in a small rural community is the opportunity to be involved with neighbors as part of annual town or community celebration. The Spirit of the West Festival in Golden Valley County and the Music Fest in Langdon are just a few examples of local and regional events, festivals and celebrations which take place throughout the year in many areas of our state.
Since moving to New Salem, I’ve become active in the community, particularly with our kids’ school events and in 4-H. Our little part of paradise holds annual and seasonal events where everyone is encouraged to participate, sharing their talents and skills. New Salem hosts the Morton County Fair, a Christmas festival, a community garage sale, and many other activities.
Our town has an obvious theme. Anyone who has ever passed exit 127 on I-94 has probably noticed Salem Sue, the worlds’ Largest Holstein Cow. She stands proudly on a prominent hill at the edge of town watching over the center of North Dakota’s dairy industry. The civic leaders erected Sue in 1974 to celebrate the community’s ties to the dairy industry. She has since become a world-recognized land mark. Recently, Sue loomed larger than life over one of our town’s most enjoyable festivals: The Cow Town Hoe Down.
One endearing part of the Hoe Down is the annual Tractor Trek, which offers area farmers and collectors an opportunity to show off their restored collectable tractors. It’s a reflection of our past, celebrates agriculture and allows for a little bragging and pride of ownership. Many area residents participate by driving ‘grandpa’s tractor’ from Almont to New Salem as a way of kicking-off Hoe Down festivities.
I had the honor of driving an Allis Chalmers D10 in this year’s Trek. My son, Parker, drove an AC D15. Both tractors are owned by local farmer Jim Bahm who graciously allowed us to relive good memories about my Dad and his AC D17.
One of the last good pictures I have of Dad is of him holding a then-four-year old Parker on the old Allis. It’s amazing the memories that came flooding back into my mind on that 15-mile drive. I didn’t miss the thousands of hours raking hay on the D17, but the sore backside I enjoyed after the Trek certainly reminded me of those days. The Hoe Down and the Tractor Trek also remind me of a simpler time and a slower pace; of seeing all the things we’re driving by but missing in our hurried lives.
I hope this summer or fall you have the opportunity to get involved in your local community, take the time to embrace your heritage, and reminisce a bit. Life will resume at its ever-quickening pace soon enough. Enjoy today at least for a little while.