John Deere fans have a field day at centenary celebrations


John Kirkpatrick, Lake Goldsmith, on his Waterloo Boy dwarfed by the 570hp John Deere 9RX quad track.

John Deere enthusiasts had a field day last week with a program chocked full of tractors, cakes, tractor pulls, vintage horsepower, quilts and a Mr and Ms JD competition at Henty.

The occasion celebrated 100 years of tractor manufacture for the iconic agricultural brand, and gave John Deere fans a rare photo opportunity with two tractors, made 100 years apart, sitting side by side.

A 25hp Waterloo Boy tractor and its big brother, a 570hp John Deere quad track 9RX, were the centrepiece of the celebrations at Henty Machinery Field Days on Thursday, September 20.

The “R” Waterloo Boy came off the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company’s manufacturing line in Waterloo, Iowa, and railed from the factory on April 2, 1918, destined for a working life in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Almost exactly a century later to the month, the 9RX rolled off the company’s assembly line at Waterloo.

The Waterloo Boy is owned by Lake Goldsmith woolgrower John Kirkpatrick, a passionate collector of John Deere farm machinery and steel wheeled vintage tractors.

The 9RX was contributed to the display by Henty’s largest exhibitor, Hutcheon & Pearce.

Field day visitors were treated to an extensive outdoor and indoor collection of John Deere tractors co-ordinated by the Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery Club.

The indoor display also included a 700hp 6030 and 1800hp pulling tractor owned by Allan Arthur, Albury.

During the celebrations, a collectible John Deere quilt sewn by Lyn Jacobsen, of Thurgoona, was auctioned at The Stump by Elders Albury livestock auctioneer Matt Tinkler.

The quilt was snapped up for $1500 by Robert Jaques, Wagga Wagga, for his four-month-old grandson, with the proceeds donated to CWA of NSW Disaster Relief Fund.

The celebrations kicked off with a vintage John Deere tractor pull by Scout Symons, an international competitor in “strongman” competitions.

Scout, 26, used a body harness to haul a steel-wheeled 1928 John Deere D Model tractor owned by the Schulz family, Jindera.

“I’ve pulled a truck and a police highway patrol vehicle so a tractor was next,’’ she said.

Jonathan Schulz and his father Arnold contributed 11 vintage tractors to the indoor and outdoor vintage John Deere display, including a 1959 435 model, one of only seven in Australia.

Jonathan went on to claim the title of Mr JD 2018 at Henty.

“I’ve grown up driving tractors and love my green gear – I tell everyone I drive green, I don’t eat them,’’ he said.

The Ms JD 2018 title went to Gail Collins, of West Wyalong, NSW.

Gail was married to her husband John with a vintage John Deere tractor as a backdrop and she said the couple “bleed green’’.

“My husband, John, is a diesel mechanic who has sold John Deere tractors and headers for many years. Basically we are and always will be a John Deere family,’’ Mrs Collins said.

John Deere Limited managing director Peter Wenckel joined Mrs Collins and Mr Schulz in cutting the centenary cake.

“We operate in a dynamic industry that is forever changing and these two tractors are a great example of where our history has come from, and where it is going,’’ Mr Wenckel said.

“In 1918 when the company acquired the Waterloo Boy tractor, John Deere was heavily criticised for the acquisition as (detractors) said the horse and mule would never be replaced in the field.

“At that time, there were 26 million horses and mules operating in agriculture in North America, requiring 39 million acres just to grow the oats for their feed.

“The introduction of the tractor really did transform the agricultural industry and improve productivity.’’

Mr Wenckel said the move to larger, higher horsepower and stronger machines to drive productivity improvements showed the significant evolution of agriculture.

“It will be interesting in a century’s time to celebrate the 200 year anniversary what the tractor will look like on the other side of the 9000 Series.

“We have our thoughts on that but we will let history tell the tale.’’