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Tired Iron Show
Tractor pull a draw for western Kansas and beyond
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Kids and tractors have a magnetic pull to one another, as seen here Sunday morning at the 2019 Tired Iron Show at the Santa Fe Trail Center museum grounds west of Larned. A hot rod tractor contest was held Saturday, and a traditional tractor pull on Sunday morning. 870 people attended this year’s event.

LARNED — Wheat threshing, corn shelling and a locomotive-driving saw milling operation were just some of the demonstrations visitors to the 19th Annual Tired Iron Show at the Santa Fe Trail Center took in over the weekend.

The Parade of Power occurred on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning, highlighting each of the unique motor-driven agricultural machines featured at the show, each an innovation in their time, making it possible for farm families to produce food to feed a nation and the world for more than a century. 

The festival, in its way, is a celebration of human ingenuity and the tools created to make moving people forward, both through transportation and mechanical technology, towards a better future. In the early 20th century, in this part of the country, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for those who broke the land to also forge their own tools to make their jobs easier and more efficient. 

One of the exhibitors at the show, the Fred and Judy Jennings family, provided a bird’s-eye view of a typical blacksmith’s shop, complete with working miniatures. There was also a working miniature display of farm equipment which included a 1/6th reproduction of a corn shelling operation, complete with wagons, a steam engine and a mechanical sheller. The miniatures were created over several years by members of the Jennings family. They’ve taken the exhibit to county and state fairs and a number of other venues over the years. Wherever they go, young and old alike become mesmerized by the action of the display. 

Watching the action in miniature makes witnessing the operation of the actual full-size threshers and shellers even more interesting. Wagons of dry corn and bundled wheat were pulled up to machines, and exhibitors turned on engines and began feeding the grains onto belts as they would have decades earlier. 

Just before the Parade of Power tractor parade Sunday morning, Ken Fenwick flew his biplane over the parade ground creating a cross as it released vapor stream in two passes. The display was in memory of Larry “Colonel” Carr, who passed away in September. Carr served on the SFTC Board, and was a key Tired Iron Show committee member since the inaugural year of the event. 

All buildings on the grounds of the SFTC were open to visitors, and provided a glimpse into the way people lived in the past. The tractor pull attracted competitors from many western Kansas communities, including Colby, Scott City, Goodland, and even a few Colorado border cities. Local competitors were there too, all testing the strength of their machines, measuring how far they could pull in a straight line loaded down with increasingly higher weight. 

Another event that drew crowds was anvil blasting. After a brief physics lesson, provided around an approximately 160 lb. anvil, the crowd dispersed to an area several feet away from the anvil. A warning that, once in the air, the anvil would appear to be coming towards them, but not to panic, was helpful. Indeed, the hurtling metal tool, blasted far enough in the air to cause adults to fully crane necks back to keep it in sight, appeared at its high point to be taking a turn towards those on the ground. Surprisingly, it landed nearly exactly in the location from where it was blasted though.  

Admission to the 2019 Tired Iron Show was by freewill donation this year. Proceeds from the donations will help pay for a new HVAC upgrade to the museum. A total of 820 people attended the event over the weekend, and a little over $2,700 in freewill donations was accepted, according to interim director Beverly Howell. This year, admission to the show was not charged in lieu of an ongoing HVAC fund drive. 

“The staff and volunteers consider it a very successful event,” Howell said. “We appreciate all the sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees.