It’s that time of year again for the familiar sight of orange in Hutchinson. This weekend the Upper Midwest Allis-Chalmers Club will host its 28th annual Orange Spectacular. It kicks off Friday and will run through Sunday, July 28, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds.
The world-famous event celebrates the iconic Allis-Chalmers brand and draws people from across the United States and foreign countries.
If you’re on a budget, the Spectacular offers a variety of free things to do including free parking and free admission.
That said, there are many opportunities to spend some cash, too, and maybe make some. One of the many highlights is the grand prize drawing Sunday. This year’s winner has a choice of a 1962 Allis-Chalmer D-10 Series One tractor or a $4,000 cash prize.
“Our raffle ticket sales are what allow this event to be free” said Bob Paulson, longtime Orange Spectacular volunteer.
“We are the only exclusively Allis-Chalmer show in the U.S.” said Craig Buss, a longtime member of the Upper Midwest Allis-Chalmers Club.
This year they are expecting around 200 tractors to be on display.
“The tractor makes vary from 1918 up until 1985 when Allis-Chalmer went out of business,” Paulson said.
Because the show is the only one of its kind, it is also one of the only places to obtain parts for A-C tractors and implements. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase parts at the swap meet.
Buss said they are anticipating around 12,000 will attend the show. And not just from the states. Visitors are also coming from England and Australia.
The showcase is in its 28th year and began on the Karg family farm in 1991.
“We started out as a small show with only about 300 people,” Paulson said. “And it was only one day. After we outgrew that, we opted to go to the fairgrounds.”
Joan Paulson, who coordinates the women and children’s activities at the A-C show, recalls cooking hamburgers and hot dogs that first year.
“I was the only food vendor,” she said.
Hungry? No problem.
Dishing out delicious food this year is the Kiwanis, Joanie’s Catering and the Immanuel Lutheran School, with everything from pancakes to fried pickles on the menu. The McLeod County Dairy Princesses will also be serving malts on Saturday.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The Spectacular offers activities for people of all ages. There will be an array of demonstrations where you can see the A-C tractors in action, just as they were over 100 years ago.
The field demonstrations include threshing, combining, disking and raking along with much more to see.
Every year the event highlights a unique Allis-Chalmers tractor. This year’s tractor will be the Two-Twenty in honor of this year being the 50th anniversary of its production. The Orange Spectacular invites anyone who owns this tractor to bring to display.
On Friday night, the popular tractor ride returns. A long line of orange can be seen traveling through Hutchinson. Paulson said there were more than 50 tractors that participated last year, along with people movers.
“People that come from out of state love to tour Hutchinson” he said.
If tractors aren’t your thing, visitors can paint a barn quilt, make a bracelet or go on a bus tour of favorite local establishments such as Bonnie Mohr Studio, Barn and Loft (formerly Meshed Designs) and the Koniska Country Store.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements so that everybody in the family can enjoy the show,” Joan Paulson said.
If music is your thing, don’t miss the live offerings this year. Bands such as the Country Fried Grubers and Stoney Point are performing in the Pavilion.
“I remember going to a lot of ag shows with my husband, looking at one tractor and wanting to go home,” said Joan Paulson. “But now, we’ve added live music and classes to keep them around.”
There is a flea market and boutique to browse, and of course plenty of souvenirs to buy such as hats, T-shirts, and sweatshirts.
For the little ones, there is a pedal pull and barrel train rides, along with sandboxes and toy tractors to play with. Young visitors will also get the chance to ride and drive a tractor, something new to the Spectacular this year.
Paulson said that some students in FFA haven’t gotten the chance to get on a tractor, and wants to change that.
The Hutchinson Robotics team will also be making an appearance where kids will get to see the robots work.
“We want the young kids to see the new technology, because farming is an old activity,” Joan Paulson said. “We try to get old and new technology involved.”
“This is a family event,” Bob Paulson said. “We really try to get the community to come out.”