Becker County Fair Tractor Parade to feature local man's vintage Case 800
The Becker County Fair will host its 12th annual tractor parade this Saturday, July 31, with all tractors departing from Adkins Equipment in Detroit Lakes at 10:30 a.m. and proceeding south on Richwood Road toward the fairgrounds in Detroit Lakes. Leading off this year's parade will be longtime Case tractor enthusiast Vern Hanson.
Becker County native Vern Hanson has been around Case tractors pretty much his whole life — but he didn't start restoring them as a hobby until he and his wife Lanette decided to build one at one-quarter scale, so their son Derrick (who is handicapped) could ride it around.
"It was (modeled on) a 1175 Case," Vern said of that first effort. "We built it out of spare parts, so he could ride up and down the road ditches. That's how all this started."
By "this," he means his favorite hobby of taking vintage Case tractors and restoring them to working order.
"Altogether, my wife and I have six Case tractors," Vern said, adding, "I've fixed up three of them so far."
Though he would love to have all three of his restored models featured in this Saturday's Becker County Fair Tractor Parade, Vern said, it's a Case 800 gas model he purchased in 2017 that will lead off the anticipated procession of 100 or so tractors of various makes, models and vintages.
Vern grew up on a 200-acre dairy farm, about a half mile east of Westbury. His father, Roy V. Hanson, purchased the farm just north of the one operated by his father (Vern's grandfather), Arthur William Hanson, in the 1950s.
"My grandfather bought his first Case tractor in the early 1930s," Vern says. "It was a Model L — a big tractor in those days. He bought it from the local Case dealer in Detroit Lakes."
Vern's father Roy originally operated the farm with two tractors, a D.C. Case and an S.C. Case.
"Then, in 1960, he bought a brand new Case tractor, called a 611-B, with a 3/14 semi-mount plow," Vern recalled. "That tractor was my dad's pride and joy."
His father continued to use the 611-B as his "chore" tractor right up until he passed away in 2012, Vern added.
"We kept the tractor in the family, unrestored," Vern said. "We, as a family, have left it as dad used it last, in its working clothes."
Besides that original 611-B, the Hansons have also kept the mini-tractor that Vern built for his son: "He (Derrick) won't let me sell it," Vern joked.
He is also involved in the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion at Rollag, and served on that event's Expo Committee back in 2019, when Case IH was featured.
"The Saturday evening of that weekend (when that Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion was held), we had the Case banquet," Vern recalled. "I sat across the table from a man named Nolan Young."
As it turned out, Young was a Rollag native who happened to know a bit about the history of the Case 800 tractor that Vern had purchased.
"He told me my tractor was bought new in 1958 by Herbert Aakre," Vern said. "He traded it back in very soon after, when the first of the diesel 800s came in at Rollag Implement. The tractor was sold to Tom Mikkelson, a bachelor farmer. He owned it until he passed away, when his nephew, Mike Schultz, sold it to Scott Anderson, who lived close by."
Anderson was originally interested in restoring the tractor himself, but decided to sell it to Vern instead. Though he wasn't able to finish restoring it in time for the 2018 edition of the Rollag event, he did display it at the Case Expo in 2019. He plans to be at the 2021 version as well.
Parade festivities begin with breakfast
The tractor parade festivities begin at Adkins Equipment, just north of Detroit Lakes on Richwood Road (also known as County Road 21). Parade participants can begin bringing in their tractors at 8 a.m., then enjoy a pancake and sausage breakfast provided by Adkins Equipment, Val Seaberg, Hoffman's Meats, corn and soybean growers organizations from both Becker and Mahnomen counties, the Becker County chapter of the American Dairy Association, Detroit Lakes FFA and the Agribusiness Committee of the local Chamber of Commerce. The breakfast will be served from 9 to 10 a.m., after which tractors will begin lining up for the parade's 10:30 a.m. start.
The parade departs from Adkins Equipment on Richwood Road/County Road 21 and proceeds south to where it becomes Roosevelt Avenue, then continues south to Willow Street before turning west and proceeding to Rossman Avenue. The tractors will then turn south once again and continue on to the Becker County Fairgrounds, where they will be parked for display until approximately 2 p.m. Some drivers may volunteer to stop at local nursing homes prior to returning to Adkins Equipment. All traffic laws must be obeyed on the return trip.
Tractors of all ages, sizes and models are welcome; they must have rubber tires, however, and be able to reach a minimum speed of 6-7 miles per hour. No riders outside of the driver will be allowed, unless the tractor is equipped with a belted observer seat. Trailers with safe seating and hitch safety chains are allowed. Tractors must meet Minnesota public road travel regulations, and have information sheets displayed that include basic information about the vehicle, such as the original make and model.
This year's parade is dedicated in memory of the late Norman Danielson and Jeff Letourneau.
If you go
What: Becker County Fair Tractor Parade
When: Saturday, July 31, 10:30 a.m. until approximately 12 p.m.
Where: Parade route begins at Adkins Equipment on Richwood Road/Becker County Road 21 and proceeds south, eventually winding up at the Becker County Fairgrounds in Detroit Lakes.
How: The festivities begin with a 9 a.m. pancake and sausage breakfast, which is free for all parade participants. Additional breakfasts can be purchased for $5 each. Registration fee for the parade is $10, with $2 going for the purchase of a fair button or armband for the driver. There is no cost to watch the parade.