Winnebago students and alumni who participated in the annual Tractor Day Parade on Friday, March 22.


Alumni join students to make the 2019 WHS Tractor Day a success

By Doug Schroder

After only nine students and eight tractors participated in the 2018 Tractor Day at Winnebago High School, organizers for this years event knew they had to do something to get the participation numbers up for the over 40-year old school tradition. Organizers opened up the parade this year to WHS alumni and also got some non-farming students to participate. The result was great as the number of tractors in the parade this year nearly tripled with over 20 tractors of various size and age in the parade.
Participants started lining up at Delong’s Grainery on Alworth Road at 5:45 a.m., just as the sun was coming up, on Friday, March 22. The weather was clear and not quite as cold as last year. Those drivers without cabs still had to bundle up a little. Officer Randy Smith took his place at the front of the line at 6:20 a.m. and escorted the procession, with emergency lights flashing, down Alworth Road to Kelly Road, where they turned right and proceeded to the curve on Elida Road. From there it was a straight shot to the school.
The Viel family had two sets of three generations in the parade. Brothers Roy and Gene Viel each had their sons and grandsons there with them as they all joined in the tradition. Tractor Day wasn’t an event when Roy, age 81, and Gene, age 75, were in high school, so they were the “newbies”, as their sons and grandsons had been in the parade before.
“We’re happy to come out and be a part of this to help the kids,” stated Gene Viel.
Dennis Gearhart of Meridian Implement supplied a few tractors for students to drive, as he has done in years past. Dennis’ grandson, Micah Gearhart, drove a very small Mahindra tractor, while 1000-point scorer girl’s basketball player Alyssa Thompson drove an identical model.
Besides the Viel clan, other WHS alumni to participate this year were Jack Rowley, Carli Reeverts, Kyle Bolen and (late but not least) Scott Burkhart.
After arriving at the high school the tractors were lined up facing McNair Road. Participants then posed for pictures and went in to the school for some breakfast pizza.
It was great to see this event return to the bigger numbers of yesteryear. The WHS Tractor Day lives on and strong. Each year for the past few years it has garnered good attention on social media. Additional pictures can be found on the Win-Du-Pec Gazette Facebook page.

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