Long lines of orange tractors rumbling down the streets are nothing new to Hutchinson residents. They’ve seen it every summer for the past three decades when members of the Upper Midwest Allis-Chalmers Club roll into town for the annual Orange Spectacular. Now steps have been taken to make the orange antiques a year-round fixture.
On Friday, the club closed on its purchase of a 6.23-acre lot at 720 Airport Road, north of Hutchinson Municipal Airport. The club plans to make it the site of its new headquarters.
“We're going to build a large storage building, and future plans are to put in … a small kitchen, bathrooms and a meeting room,” said Darrell Grams, the club’s president who lives in Green Isle. “The rest will be storage for club-owned property and exhibitors who leave things with us all year long.”
A-C tractor models vary from 1918 up until 1985, when production ceased, and the purpose of the club is to celebrate everything that is A-C tractors and implements. The club started in 1991 with 22 members and has since grown to more than 400 A-C enthusiasts. Since that first year, the club has hosted its annual bash, which today draws 7,000 to 12,000 people from around the world to the McLeod County Fairgrounds.
As Orange Spectacular has grown, the club has needed more space for storage. Although it uses a storage building at the Fairgrounds, club members don’t own it. Following a large donation from a club member, the search for property began.
“We wanted to have something we could call our own, have our own home,” Grams said. “This is extremely exciting. We’ve been working on this for three years.”
The plot on Airport Road was perfect with its proximity to the Fairgrounds “right across the street,” Grams said with a chuckle.
With the new property, the club also hopes to continue spreading its love of A-C tractors to the next generation. In the future it hopes to establish a small museum in the building that would include history of the club and Orange Spectacular.
“The really long-range plan we have is that we want to establish something that we can bring young people out, show them this old equipment, tell them about it and then take them out to our storage building and actually show them the exact equipment and answer any questions they might have,” Grams said. “We want to try and pass this along to young people to keep this brand name alive.”
While there’s much work to be done, Grams said the club has some extra incentive to prepare its new headquarters: The Gathering of the Orange, the annual national gathering of A-C enthusiasts, is coming to Hutchinson in 2021.