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Friday, September 23, 2022
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Tractors, 7-Foot Pie Featured in Nappanee

by Jerry Goshert

Published: Friday, September 23, 2022

Red Tractors on Display

It's often been said that behind every antique tractor is a unique story. If that's true, Duane Harman of Leesburg has many stories to share.

Harman and his wife Lori brought 14 tractors and one grain truck to last weekend's Nappanee Power from the Past Show. The three-day event, held in conjunction with the Nappanee Apple Festival, celebrated International Harvester and Farmall equipment, which is what Duane collects.

As a collector of red tractors, Harman displayed his old iron in a prime area at the show grounds. His 14 tractors were among hundreds that were brought for display.

Like many collectors, Harman holds onto tractors that are special. He pointed to a 1950 M that once belonged to his father. He pointed to a second tractor that was his workhorse on the farm.

"That one I farmed with until I quit farming," he said, referring to a 1937 Farmall F20.

Over the years, Harman has added to his collection. In one situation, he purchased two tractors from a widow whose husband had passed away.

"I bought two of their tractors to keep them in the neighborhood and to keep the memory alive," he said.

He added that a piece of machinery is more than a collection of metal parts. It's an important piece of history, and he feels such equipment is worth preserving for the next generation.

"It's pretty important to me. It really is," he said. "With the husker-shredder that we bought over there, that came from a neighbor. On the day of the sale, I was going to bid on it. I was afraid my wife would maybe get upset, so another guy bought it. I said, 'What are you going to do with it?' and he said, 'I'm going to load it up and take it to the salvage yard.' And I said, 'I'll give you a hundred dollars more than you paid for it to leave it set.' So, today we got to run it for the first time."

For the record, Lori wasn't upset with her husband for buying the husker-shredder.

"I come from a farming family," she said. "It's in my DNA, too, but not as much as his. I feel the same way that he does."

Over the course of the three-day show, the Harmans were looking forward to speaking with like-minded collectors and sharing knowledge.

"Mainly, it's talking to other people and enjoying their company," Duane said.

As the twilight was beginning to fade to darkness on the second day of the show, many people gathered around to watch a steam engine spark show. Among them were Ray and Diane George of Leesburg, Fla. The retired couple were vacationing in Michigan, visiting antique tractor shows along the way. They said the Nappanee show is one of their favorites.

"It's just that the Amish people are such wonderful people," Ray said. "They are so outgoing, understanding, and it's just a pleasure to be around them."

Ray said he and Diane are friends with Merlin Yoder, one of the show's organizers. Yoder had to be away from the show for one day, so he asked the Georges to tend the old-fashioned service station that displays memorabilia. Ray said he was impressed with Yoder's hospitality and friendly personality.

The retired couple purchased their recreational vehicle from a Nappanee dealer several years ago. That's how they learned about the Nappanee Power from the Past. Now, they come every year to Nappanee.

Last Friday evening, the Georges were sitting in a golf cart watching the spark show. They were full of admiration for Yoder and the people who organize the annual Power from the Past event.

"They put on a great show," Diane said.

Big Crowds in Nappanee

by Carolina Keegan

The theme of apples ranged from food to fun at the Nappanee Apple Festival last weekend. From the 7-foot apple pie to the apple peeling contest, clusters of people poured into Nappanee to enjoy an apple treat between Thursday and Sunday.

Donna Persing, the director of the Nappanee Apple Festival, says her favorite parts of the festival are the parade and the 7-foot apple pie.

"The apple pie tastes amazing and the distinction brings people to the community," she said.

While the pie brings in curious onlookers, the parade brings out the community, she added. Between the two groups of people, an estimated 80,000 people have visited the festival in each of the past couple years. This number comes from a variety of sources, including the police and the vendors, among others.

This year, an estimated total of 87,500 people visited the apple festival over four days.

Persing expressed excitement over the number of participants in the Donut Dash 5K walk/run, saying there were three times as many runners as last year.

This year, some visiting entertainers included Flippenout, a trampoline group out of Salt Lake City, Utah. They performed multiple flip routines using a variety of props, including skis and snowboards. They say the hardest part of their routine is getting onto the trampoline while wearing the winter gear.

A staple event at the festival is the Miss Apple Scholarship Pageant.

Georgia Wiggins of Nappanee, a pageant contestant, said in past years she had been too busy with color guard to participate in the festival, but this year she had the time. She helped with the pedal pull and fish races.

"It's a small-town setting, which invites people to come over," she said, describing the apple festival.

Connie Nash of Wakarusa and Rory Romig of Walkerton also mentioned the small-town setting when explaining why they enjoy coming to the festival.

"The apple pie, and supporting the community brought us here," Nash said.

"The events don't cost a lot of money and people get to bring their kids down to enjoy the activities, and some of them are free," Romig said. "It's a small, hometown feeling. We want to see the kids grow up in the small towns."

On Saturday, the Ramirez family dominated the apple peeling contest. Ramon Ramirez led with a 72.5-inch peel, and following him in the men's peeling contest was his son, Noah, who came away with a 52.5-inch peel.

Nickole Ramirez came the closest to surpassing her father's lengthy peel with a 68-inch apple skin. Bethany Lengacher came in second place in the women's division and Kayla Hernandez finished third. Cole Dushing placed third in the men's division.

Nickole commented that they all used the same technique when peeling, which ensures optimum juicing to diminish the chance that the peel will break away.

Another apple-themed contest was apple pie eating. This one engaged the crowds as they cheered on the contestants.

Tamia LeFave won out in the 13- to 17-year-old division. Following her were Isabella Teitsma in second and Rain Davis in third.

"I was breathing pie," LeFave said after she had finished her plate.

Sky Davis took first in the 8- to 12-year-old competition, followed closely by Violet Davis in second. Taking third place was Gavin Sausman.

In the adult competition, Ryan Davis pulled away with the win for his second year in a row. He took a lap around the table, arm raised above his head, as the onlookers cheered. Steve Ringo and Matthew Beachy took second and third, respectively, staying neck-and-neck until Ringo inched ahead in the end.

On the other end of the festivities, families filled the bleachers to watch the pedal tractor pull. There were eight divisions of competition, including: 3- and 4-year-olds, 5- and 6-year-olds, 7- and 8-year-olds; 9- and 10-year-olds, 11- and 12-year-olds, 13-to 16-year-olds, adult women and adult men.

In the 3- and 4-year-olds, Kade George, Tyler Lehman and Jack Taoer advanced to a second round after pulling 125 pounds across the track. George placed first out of three, pulling 160 pounds 34 feet. Taoer placed second after reaching 25.6 feet and Lehman came in third at 21 feet.

Pulling 225 pounds a total of 30.3 feet and coming away with the win for the 7- and 8-year-olds was Katie Hurst. Isaiah Miller came in second, pulling the weight 29.9 feet and Obadiah Miller followed closely at 29.6 feet.

Landon Hurst, Elijah Miller and Keylnn Symons placed first, second and third respectively in the 9- and 10-year-olds division. The length of their pulls was unavailable at press time.

Lucas Ropp pulled 550 pounds 32.6 feet to take the win in the 11- and 12-year-old division. Jeremiah Holmuth placed second, pulling the weight 27.8 feet, and Lucas Yoder reached 22.9 feet to earn third.

After three rounds, Joshuah Martin pulled away with first place in the 13- to 16-year-olds division achieving a length of 24.6 feet with 800 pounds. Gabe Mast pulled the weight 24.3 feet to take second and Julie Martin placed third after having pulled 650 pounds 32.3 feet.

Dustin Mast took first prize in the men's pedal pull, followed by Lance George and Wade Symons. The length and weight of their pulls were unavailable at press time.

In the women's class, Samantha Mast, Courtney George and Kendall Fisher took first, second and third places, respectively. The three pulled 750 pounds 29.6, 28 and 27.3 feet across the track.

None of the contestants, hometowns was recorded.

This year's Miss Apple Blossom, Liliana Lomeli, is a 20-year-old St. Mary's College junior and NorthWood High School graduate. She was crowned on the opening night of the festival. As queen, she earns a $1,000 scholarship.

Her court includes: first runnerup, Jessie Price, 16, a junior at NorthWood High School; and second runnerup, Paige Jacobs, 17, a senior at NorthWood High School. Price receives a $750 scholarship, and Jacobs will get a $500 scholarship.

In another honor, Abigail Miller won this year's People's Choice Award. The results are based on voting. Miller, who is 17, is a senior at NorthWood High School.

Other festival activities include: carnival rides, the Grandpa Cratchet Kids Show and Puppets, a corn hole tournament, Silly Safaris, an apple dumpling contest and the Nappanee Power from the Past antique tractor show (see related story) among other things.

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