Taking a spin with 60 fellow tractor lovers

For organizer of annual tour, there’s no better way to enjoy what Ozaukee County has to offer than with a leisurely, 20-mile ride on farm tractors

AN ARRAY OF vintage farm tractors traveled through northern Ozaukee County last week in an annual event organized by tractor collector Ken Jentges of the Town of Port Washington. Sixty tractors took part in the ride, which is always held around the Fourth of July for Jentges’ friends and family members. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Ken Jentges of the Town of Port Washington loves to take his tractors out for a spin, and last weekend about 60 of his family members and close friends joined him on his jaunt.

They traveled about 20 miles through the countryside, spending some time taking in the scenery along Lake Michigan, then heading to the Mirror Bar in Dacada before heading back to Jentges’ home on Highway B for a home cooked lunch prepared by his wife Jackie.

“You know, we complain about the lake and what it does to our spring,” Jentges said. “People from Portage think it’s pretty cool, which it is, so we make a point of swinging by the lake. We try to find some scenery.”

It’s an informal gathering that’s been happening each year for about seven years now, Jentges said.

“It’s just a day of fun,” he said. “We just go for a ride on the back roads because we don’t want to cause any traffic problems.”

The parade is an offshoot of Jentges’ passion, collecting old Case tractors and restoring them.

“If you’ve got a tractor, you’ve got a little bit of agricultural blood in you,” Jentges said.

He and a friend started the tractor ride about seven years ago, and since then neighbors and friends, some of whom travel more than 100 miles to the gathering, have joined in. 

“It keeps getting a little bigger,” he said.     

The first year, he said, there were about 20 tractors. This year’s ride, which occurred on July 7, involved about 60 tractors.

“It got a little larger than planned,” he said, noting the line stretched “closer to two miles than one.”

The oldest tractor this year was from the 1940s, Jentges said, while the newest tractors were a decade or two old.

“We don’t have any really new tractors,” Jentges said.

Most of the tractors are from the 1950s through the 1970s, he said.

The age of the participants varied, too, Jentges said, noting the oldest participant this year was said to be about 84.

Even some of those who travel from far away bring their own tractors, Jentges said, while others ride his vehicles.

For some, the ride is a chance to show off the projects they’ve been working on.

“Somebody who has worked on their tractor all winter and finally got it going, they get to show it off,” Jentges said.

For others, it’s a chance to enjoy what they have and to reminisce about days — and vehicles —gone by.

“Everybody’s got a story about a tractor and what it means to them,” Jentges said.

For example, his collection includes the tractor his grandfather used when he started the family farm in 1936, he said.

And for everyone involved, the ride is a chance to get together and spend time with friends.

“It seems people don’t do that much any more,” Jentges said. “We try to relax and have some fun. We just want this to stay a low-key thing.”

So don’t expect to hear much about the ride in the future, Jentges said, or to find out it’s become a massive attraction. The idea is to limit the ride to family and friends who just enjoy the great outdoors and their tractors.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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