RANTOUL, Ill. — As the “premier working vintage farm show in the U.S.,” the Half Century of Progress runs for four days at the Rantoul National Aviation Center in Rantoul from Thursday, Aug. 22, to Sunday, Aug. 25.
Co-chairmen Russell Buhr and John Fredrickson been working for months and months on this biennial event organized by the I & I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club with dozens of volunteers preparing for this year’s show.
Visitors can experience what organizers say what farming and agriculture was like 50 years ago with live demonstrations, attractions and fellowship.
But Buhr said it’s likely that someone showing at this long weekend may have been working for two years to make the big reveal on a newly-renovated piece of equipment.
“It’s just amazing what shows up,” Buhr said. “Some of these guys start working on something right after the last show ends. There’s always something new to see. It really gives the show an edge of excitement.”
Adding to the element of surprise is from where these special machines come from, Buhr said.
“Our exhibitors come from all around the U.S. They’re bringing stuff that’s basically home made that looks like factory made,” he said.
Of course, it’s the old iron that steals this show and leads the Parades of Power that step off at 1 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The Class of ‘69 will appear in the Harvest Brigade and lead off the parade this year,” Buhr added.
Another highlight is Saturday and Sunday appearances by Jolene Brown, an agriculture and business inspirational speaker.
There’s also plenty to enjoy for the whole family. While Saturday and Sunday are loaded with kid-friendly events, including the Kiddie Tractor Pull at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Buhr said FFA students tend to flood the grounds every day and many families bring out their kids every day.
Here’s what else to know.
Admission: $15 a day, $30 for a multi-day pass, children 12 and under are free.
Basic daily schedule: There are certain events that happen at the same time every day:
- 7 a.m. — Gates open.
- 8 a.m. — Flag raising with America’s Largest Flying Flag.
- 8:30 to 11 a.m. — Field demonstrations for broom corn, corn shelling, bean combining and field tillage.
- 1 p.m. — Except on Thursday, the Parade of Power.
- 4 p.m. — Except on Sunday, sanctioned tractor pulls.
- Afternoons — Various start times for field demonstrations and live music.
About that giant flag: At 120 by 65 feet and 200 pounds, the flag is posted 225 feet high.
More information: www.halfcenturyofprogress.com or 89.9 FM Radio.