2020 was a first for The Big Show Tractorcade, as it had never gone through Jones County before.
The organizers were happy with the results.
“Under the circumstances, we were very pleased,” Matt Kenney, senior marketing consultant/event manager with iHeart Radio Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, said. “We were told this is the best one we’ve ever had. I understand that part of that might be attributed to the fact that people were just itching to have something to do.”
Everything from the route to the hosts received nothing but positive feedback. Standouts included the pit stop in Stone City and a private drive through the Weber Stone quarry.
All told, Kenney estimated that between 330 and 340 tractors participated in the annual ride. They had 350 tractors register but had some no shows and some drop-ins. The number was similar to last year’s, which had lower numbers because of the spring planting season being impacted by wet condition.
One of the people along for the ride for part of day two was Bill Smith, a 96-year-old World War II veteran from Maquoketa.
Rich Rains, who drove Smith until he stopped after lunch in Baldwin, said he rode two years ago with Rains in 2018 in Bellevue’s Fourth of July parade. The pair know each other through their men’s group at church, and Smith and his wife of 77-years were one of the first families to introduce themselves when Rains moved to town 15 years ago.
In the past, the tractorcade has had a 93-year-old driving their own tractor, but Smith is believed to be not only the oldest rider on this year’s ride, but the oldest rider they’ve ever had.
This is Rains’ second year in the tractorcade. He first rode in 2018 and hadn’t planned on riding this year because he had another vacation planned, but that had to be canceled due to the virus. He rides in three or four every year.
“I’ve always wanted to,” Rains said and now retired, has the time to be able to do it.
The event this year was a combination of the Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade and WHO’s Tractor Ride. The event was initially supposed to take place in June.