Just exactly what is a Tractor Ride? This year it started with 32 tractors being driven from Buddies Quick Stop in Tekamah around the bottom. That is what locals call the flat ground east of Highway 75, or geologically defined as a primary berm.
Second place they stopped was at Ronnie’s Bar in Tekamah where some drivers enjoyed a mid-Saturday morning beverage. Then it was on to Craig via the back roads for lunch at Roger’s Pumpkin Patch, which is the old Co-op building.
The lunch spread was enjoyed by over 100. Tuna (John Haverkamp) did the catering with area women providing a delightful selections of salads. The locally famous Pie Lady, Linda Bisanz, had an amazing selection of not only fruit pies, including strawberry-rhubarb, but also cream pies. There was a free will offering taken which Roger Johnson, the owner of the Pumpkin Patch, said covered all costs.
How did the annual Tomcat Memorial Tractor Ride come into existence? Johnson explained that one year, there was a ride that started at the Tekamah Rodeo Grounds. It was part of fundraising for a handicap accessibility project with around $1,200 being raised. Next year, another was held, but only about 10 tractors participated.
The following year, Tom Gammel, nicknamed Tomcat, approached Johnson about having a tractor ride ending in Craig. It was a success, but Gammel died shortly after. Locals now pitch together and have staged this event in his honor since his death six years ago.
Because of the gratis cleaning work of Ann Anderson and Pam Noyes in anticipation of the tractor ride, the place has had it’s fall cleaning and still looks pretty good, even after the ride. If a white pickup is in front of the Pumpkin Patch, stop in for free coffee and typically a variety of sweet treats brought in by locals.
While the Tractor Ride won’t be back for another year, Roger keeps the Pumpkin Patch open most mornings for visitors. Stop in!