There may be more "Deere" running on county roads in Fillmore County next weekend than usual. The Preston Historical Society (PHS), in conjunction with the Fillmore County Fair Board, is sponsoring a two-day autumn tractor ride throughout the county on Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 15.

Based at the county fairgrounds, pre-routed rides will depart from there on both days, with several stops along the way. Tractor owners are encouraged to register for the ride, but others who are interested in tagging along for a weekend of leisure can do so in one of several tractor-hitched wagons.

The idea to have a tractor ride throughout Bluff Country in Fillmore County came from Preston resident and historical society member Robert Maust. He had been involved with several tractor rides in the upper Midwest and thought it would fit well with the area.

"We have beautiful country and a lot of county blacktop roads to drive on," he explained, stating it would help promote the area.

The ride will also benefit the work the Preston Historical Society does with preserving Preston history. The historical society has been responsible for restoration work done on the O'Hara schoolhouse, Milwaukee grain elevator, and other projects.

The tractor ride begins and ends at the fairgrounds. Registration begins on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 9:30 a.m., although pre-registration is recommended to give volunteers an idea how much food to prepare.

There is a $75 registration fee for those wishing to drive a tractor throughout the county. The fee includes four meals during the two days and a T-shirt. People who are tagging along for a ride in a wagon will only need to bring money for the meals.

Following registration at the fairgrounds, the tractor ride will commence. Three groups traveling at different speeds will leave in half-hour increments beginning at 10 a.m.

Any tractor is allowed on the ride so long as it can travel at a minimum of 10 miles per hour and has a slow moving vehicle sign on it.

The routes

Maust explained that all stops and towns the tractors will be heading through during the two days will have police presence to ensure efficient traffic control.

After leaving the fairgrounds on the first day, the tractors will take County Road 17 north to County Road 8 and drive west to Fountain. After riding through the town's main street, the riders will get on County Road 11 and take it north to County Road 30 for a short while until turning left onto County Road 40. They will follow 40 to Highway 52 and ride the remaining mile and a half to Chatfield City Park where a lunch will be enjoyed. The groups will then leave going south on County Road 5 which they will follow all the way through Fillmore to Wykoff where an afternoon snack will be held at the community center at 2:30 p.m. Continuing on County Road 5, the group will turn on to County Road 14 just before Cherry Grove and make their way back to Preston by late afternoon.

A steak fry dinner by the Fillmore County Cattlemen, with the trimmings provided by the Branding Iron, will be served beginning at 5 p.m.

For those who ride in the wagons, the meal will cost $12.

Following dinner, the Fair Board will hold its annual dance to music provided by the Lost Faculties. The dance will run from 7 to 11 p.m. in the main barn. Tickets are $8 each or $15 per couple.

The second day of the ride will break bright and early on Sunday, Sept. 15, with a pancake and sausage breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the fairgrounds. The breakfast will cost $6 for non-tractor driving people.

The first group of tractors will leave at 9 a.m. and head south on County Road 17 all the way to County Road 44, which will be taken east into Harmony. After a drive through downtown, the tractors will turn east on to Highway 52 and continue through Canton to get on to County Road 23. The route will continue north to Lenora where lunch will be served at the historic Lenora Church. The groups will continue on 23 north to County Road 12, which they will stay on for a short while before turning north onto County Road 21 to Lanesboro. After a snack, the tractors will continue west on County Road 8 and turn on to 17 to return back in Preston around 4 p.m.

Maust commented that running on all paved roads will be a benefit to all the tractor ride participants as gravel roads would kick up too much dust. It will also allow the local riders to get out on roads they may not travel frequently.

Maust expects many of the riders will have had or have an agriculture background and will be interested in seeing how crops are doing throughout the county.

According to recent pre-registration information, Maust is expecting over 40 tractors with several coming from out of the county and even out of state. Some will be bringing older tractors in addition to newer models.

"It's a chance to meet new friends who have a common interest in maintaining older tractors," noted Maust, who owns several classic tractors himself.

If any tractor breaks down and needs to be moved off of the roads, Herman's Standard Auto Repair in Fountain will be on call during the weekend. Hanson Tire of Preston will also be on call for taking care of flat tires.

In what Maust hopes will become an annual event with different routes each year, the tractor ride will benefit the Preston Historical Society and its future restoration efforts of the old scale house and bagging shed by the elevator.

"We've done a lot of planning, I hope it goes off as we expect it," remarked Maust. People who are interested in going on the ride or volunteering for the event can still contact Maust at (507) 765-2453.