Tractor ride continues to grow

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, July 16, 2011

Participants browse through the tractors parked and ready for Shinefest Tractor Ride Saturday morning. The 57-mile ride started at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds and wound its way through the southern part of the county. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

The third annual Shinefest Tractor Ride had more participants than before, and organizers hope the event will continue to grow in the future.

On Saturday there were more than 50 participants in the fundraiser. Organizer Dale Grotsun said the biggest goal of the day is fellowship and getting churches in the county involved in Shinefest’s work.

The day started at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds with a breakfast and then passed Thornecrest Retirement Community, Good Samaritan Society and St. John’s Lutheran Home before a coffee break at Concordia Lutheran Church in Pickerel Lake. The ride then went to a church in Emmons for a light lunch, to a church in Glenville for a coffee break and then headed back to the fairgrounds for a dinner.

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“We’re not making a lot of money because we feed them well,” Grotsun said with a laugh.

The entry fee is the main source of raising funds for the Shinefest service week held each August. Grotsun said the purpose of the tractor ride is to get rural churches involved with Shinefest, so they can see it’s a county-wide program and not just a program for the city of Albert Lea.

“It’s still small, but it’s growing,” Grotsun said.

Grotsun said they’ve already started planning for next year’s ride, including reserving the Fairlane Building at the fairgrounds. He recruits riders throughout the year and said this year’s ride had people from Wisconsin and Iowa who like tractor rides and were interested in riding a different route.

“We stay on county roads as much as possible,” Grotsun said.

In the past two years Grotsun said they’ve never had any complaints about the ride, and he said he enjoys passing the nursing homes to see the smiles on the residents’ faces.

Shinefest’s Week of Service begins early this year with a project at The Children’s Center in Albert Lea on Aug. 13. The week continues through Aug. 20 with various projects throughout the county.

The Shinefest Tractor Ride is open to any pre-1974 make or model tractor. Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and each tractor must be equipped with a slow-moving vehicle sign. Only one person will be allowed on each tractor, unless the tractor has a second safety seat. No cabs will be allowed. Rear-view mirrors are recommended and drivers must carry their own insurance. Grotsun can be contacted at 507-383-2766.