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Greg and Lowell Aakre and their restored Oliver 660 tractor. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Unusual tractors to lead tractor parade

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When the annual Becker County Fair Tractor Drive Rendezvous gets underway this Saturday, Aug. 2, it will be led by a machine that even some died-in-the-wool farm operators have never heard of: A 1960 Oliver 660.

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It’s one of several Oliver tractors that have been lovingly restored by rural Hawley resident Lowell Aakre and his sons, Greg and Jake.

“Our grandpa (Carl Aakre) farmed with Olivers,” Greg Aakre said, explaining why so many of the tractors in their collection bear that brand name.

“To collect them was a lot more fun because nobody else really had them,” Lowell said with a smile — though not all of the tractors found on the Aakre farm are Olivers.

“We’ve got some Case, and Minneapolis Molines, and a Massey,” he said, adding, “I worked for Case (at Rollag Implement) for 27 years, so I have a soft spot for them.

“We look for anything that’s unusual or a low number,” he said (“low number” meaning that there were very few of that particular make and model ever made).

“Whatever’s unique,” added Greg.

All of the dozen or so working tractors in their collection are still actively used in farming, Lowell noted.

“We try to put them out in the field at least once a season,” he added.

Much of the restoration work they do is a matter of teamwork.

“Greg does all the painting, and we do the mechanical work together,” Lowell said.

“We do most of the mechanical work in the winter, and the painting/cosmetic work in the summer,” Greg added.

Their “paint shop” is basically the yard in front of the machine shed where they store most of the restored tractors.

“We do all of the painting outdoors,” Lowell said.

There is one tractor, however, that they haven’t touched: A 1974 Oliver that “Dad purchased brand new from Highway Auto in New York Mills,” Lowell said.

Together, the Aakres try to restore “one (tractor) per summer,” he added.

Not surprisingly, the Aakres are members of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion at Rollag, which is located just a short drive away from their home.

About four years ago, they also became regular attendees at the Becker County Fair, as participants in the annual tractor parade.

“My son-in-law, Joe Okeson, said my two grandsons wanted to have us bring some tractors (to the parade), and we had a lot of fun, so we try to keep on doing it every year,” Lowell said.

The 6th Annual Tractor Drive Rendezvous is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday outside Adkins Equipment, and proceed south down Richwood Road to Roosevelt Avenue, then west on Willow Street to Rossman Avenue, and south again to the fairgrounds. (There will be a breakfast for the participants at Adkins Equipment prior to the start of the parade.)

The tractors will then be on display at the fair until around 1:30 p.m., when they will return to Adkins Equipment along the same route as the parade.

Tractors of all sizes, shapes and ages are encouraged to be entered in the parade, provided they are capable of a minimum speed of 6-7 miles per hour and have rubber tires. All tractors entered must meet Minnesota public road travel regulations, and no passengers other than the driver will be allowed, unless the tractor is equipped with a belted passenger seat.

Each tractor entered in the Rendezvous should have an information sheet provided for display while the tractor is at the fairgrounds. The registration fee is $5. Prizes will also be awarded.

For more information, please contact Ken Shroyer, by phone at 218-847-2674 or e-mail at kenshroyer@gmail.com.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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