Old-Fashioned Corn Picking Demonstrated At Alta Vista’s Ag Heritage Park

“Gee. Come on, get along Minnie. Haw. Get around, Molly.”

There was almost a sing in the demand and certainly spryness as Ralph Anderson with beard, flopping straw hat and bibbed overalls provided verbal accompaniment to driving lines as maneuvering his near-four-ton draft horse team.

“Back now. Easy. Watch it Minnie. You know better than that,” the conversation continued  when the 75-year-old Council Grove horseman hitched his 14-year-old half-sister, full-blood Belgian mares to an antique steel wheeled box wagon equipped with a “bang board.”

Ralph Anderson, 75, Council Grove, talks to his full blood Belgian mares Minnie and Molly as he prepares to assist with an Old-Fashioned Corn Harvest demonstration hosted by Ag Heritage Park during Alta Vista’s recent Old Settlers Day.

Several dozen people, which grew to a crowd of about a 100 as the day lengthened, had come to watch the Old-Fashioned Corn Harvest hosted as part of the Ag Heritage Park activities during Old Settlers Day at Alta Vista.

Kirby and Calvin Zimmerman, and Matt Easton, directors of the Ag Heritage Park, event coordinators-sponsors, were assisting with demonstrations in the Wabaunsee County corn field of Glen Swartz, Alta Vista farmer-stockman, who has also generously provided his cropland for similar demonstrations in the past.

“It’s a slower harvest than when I pull the combine into the field, but the corn still gets in the bin at the elevator, and that’s what counts,” commented Swartz, readily lifting a hand to assist, offering freewill advice, or explaining to an unknowing bystander what was taking place.

“It is a good crop, yeh, might be making 250 bushels if we cover enough ground.” Swartz noted

Lester Edmunds, 82, another prominent retiree still active rural Council Grove horseman, had a small hand held portable microphone explaining the nearly lost profession now turned “game” of corn husking.

Bruce Anderson, Americus, assists his dad Ralph Anderson, Council Grove, with his team of full blood Belgian mares during an Old-Fashioned Corn Harvest demonstration hosted by Ag Heritage Park during Alta Vista’s recent Old Settlers Day.

Bruce Anderson, 49, Americus farmer, horseman in  his own right and son of the guiding teamster, had a  curved husking peg hook strapped to the palm of his hand to demonstrate the way many farmers harvested their corn crop a century ago.

“Bruce walked down each row, picking corn from stalks on the right and left, twisting each ear from the stalk and tossing it into a the bang board on the wagon pulled by his Dad’s horses,” Edmunds explained.

Revealing evidence of its long life, the faded green box wagon is now owned by Bruce and his wife, Dorothy, but it originally belonged to Dorothy’s grandfather, and then her dad.

The elder Anderson then tied Minnie back up, and hitched her to an antique corn sled manufactured in the early part of the past century. “This is the first time this mare has been driven single,” Anderson qualified, as he softly scolded the 1,700-pound-plus power source to “straighten up and pull.”

Owned by Edmunds, who has a collection of old time machinery on his Lyon County farm, the corn sled was explained while Edmunds demonstrated its operation as he was seated on the horse drawn antique machine.

Lester Edmunds provided a corn sled and demonstrated how it cut corn stalks as a Belgian mare was led by Ralph Anderson during the Old- Fashioned Corn Harvest demonstration near Alta Vista.

“The platform on runners has an angled blade, and when pulled close enough along a row of corn slices through the stalks a few inches above ground level. With the help of a curved gathering arm, the cut stalks are gathered and then thrown in the outside row for assistants to set and up and tie into the shock,” explained Edmunds, clarifying that some of his terms might not be known to the lay spectators.

Kirby Zimmerman had one of the antique tractors from the Ag Heritage Park hooked to a one-row corn binder, from the unique old machinery collection, and proficiently demonstrated how corn stalks are cut and accumulated into bundles.

“The bundles are then put into shocks for winter feeding to livestock, or the bundles can be thrown into a corn sheller to separate grain from the cob and stalks,” Edmunds explained.

Another antique John Deere tractor was “belted up” to the nearby old corn sheller as bundles were tossed aboard by volunteers, as big yellow corn kernels flowed abundantly into the grain truck at field side.

An antique steel wheeled box wagon was equipped with a bang board and pulled by a team of Belgian mares driven by Ralph Anderson, Council Grove, as Bruce Anderson, Americus, demonstrated the near lost art of corn husking during a program at Alta Vista. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Anderson.)

A horse powered sweep grain grinder was hitched to Anderson’s Minnie who walked diligently round and round as the deep yellow kernels were turned into ground corn for livestock feed.

One-row tractor powered corn pickers and additional farm machinery used in corn harvest in the early part of the 20th century were demonstrated by the enthusiastic event hosts and knowledgeable cooperative assistants.

Ralph Anderson, now long retired from off-farm, non-horse power employment, was behind a workhorse team before he could walk as he rode  along with his dad Oscar Anderson.

Horsepower was still an important part of farming operations when Ralph Anderson was growing up, although the family did have a small tractor for use on their Morris County farm north of Council Grove.

“Dad bought an Allis Chalmers tractors new in 1935, so we had a tractor before some of the neighbors. But, we still used horses a lot, and I started driving a team, sitting with Dad in the implement seat when I was quite young,” Anderson fondly remembered.

“One day when I was just seven, nobody was around, and I harnessed a horse all by myself, hitched him to the mower, and was mowing weeds in the yard when Dad got home. First thing he said was, ‘we don’t need those weeds in the yard cut. If you’re going to mow, clean up the weeds around that corn field, so it looks better,’” Anderson smiled in reflection.

But, horses and horsepower have remained important throughout Ralph Anderson’s life. Always involved in farming to an extent, Anderson had off-farm jobs until retirement age.

A horse powered sweep grain grinder was hitched to Ralph Anderson’s mare Minnie who walked diligently round and round as the deep yellow kernels were turned into ground corn for livestock feed as part of Old-Fashioned Corn Harvest demonstrations Saturday south of Alta Vista. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Anderson.)

“Dad worked at a factory in town for more than 20 years and was having health issues, but when he got his horse teams again and started working with them, he became completely healthy. You can’t find many men his age as active a Dad is these days,” credited son Bruce.

The senior Anderson added, “I’ve seen groups from reform schools and punishment institutions come to the state fair and other events  and work with horses, and they don’t have any problems whatsoever. They like it, are good at it. Horses have to be the most therapeutic animal there is.”

Involved in his own small farming operations and handling custom hay services, Ralph Anderson hooks his draft teams on a regular basis for farm work, community demonstrations such as this one, a number of parades and just giving public rides for city folks.

“I bought Minnie’s mom in foal with her, raised her, and then got a half-sister out of the same stud from Lester Day at Pretty Prairie. They were born within two days of each other and started out sorrel, but you can see Molly has turned roan. They’re quite a pair,” Anderson insisted

Another full blood Belgian mare called Maude  is 13-years-old and is  used by Anderson in his operations as well.

All of the training on his horses has been done personally by Anderson. “I started driving the main team when they were weanlings and yearlings, had them hitched the first time at 22-months of age. They’ve just taken to this completely naturally,” explained Anderson, who has a preference for mares over geldings.

“They seem to be more ready to work for me, not that there’s anything wrong with geldings, but I think mares have more try and heart for what I want,” Anderson evaluated.

During an Old-Fashioned Corn Harvest demonstration hosted by Ag Heritage Park at Alta Vista, Kirby Zimmerman had one of the antique tractors, from the unique old machinery collection, hooked to a one-row corn binder, and proficiently demonstrated how corn stalks are cut and accumulated into bundles. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Anderson.)

“We’ve plowed, disked, planted, cultivated, picked corn, powered the grain grinder, mowed hay and weeds, and been in hundreds of parades. You about name what can be done with a draft horse team, and we’ve done it,” Anderson contended.

A horse trolley is among many of the horse drawn vehicles and machinery in his personal collection, and it works well for community tours and family outings which Anderson is frequently called to help with.

A hotel hack is owned by the city of Council Grove, and Anderson generally is called upon to have his team pull it several times during the Christmas season for starlight tours of the historical community.

History, and keeping ways of the past alive and memorable to today’s and future generations, is important to Anderson, who has undertaken major responsibility for the nearly 150-year-old native stone barn owned by Morris County, and located  a short distance east of Council Grove on “56,” just north of the highway.

“We’ve done lots of renovation on this beautiful barn, but there’s still plenty to do, just like all of the old historic facilities around, even like the Heritage Park here in Alta Vista,” Anderson commented.

“It’s good to keep these buildings and all of the historical items of our forefathers, but upkeep is a major expense and sometimes a fulltime job,” he added emphatically.

When gasoline got to $4 a gallon, Anderson often let his tractor set idle. “I do custom haying, and when the grass would need turned, I used my team a lot of the time. It took longer, but I made more money in the end,” he insisted.

Bruce Anderson has diversified cropping and livestock operations on his Lyon County farm, but horsepower is still often called into work, too.

“I grow about all crops, and often use my horses to reduce my machinery expense. My costs are relatively low compared to some of my neighbors, and the higher grain prices of recent have been good for my profit margins,” explained the younger Anderson, who has black draft mares and a team of full blood Percheron geldings  used in his working teams.

“While the recent downtrend in cash grain markets has some big farmers concerned about returns this harvest,  I’m going to feed my crops to my cattle. More pounds make more dollars as the heavier cattle are selling high, too,” Bruce pointed out.

Although Bruce and Lester didn’t have their teams at the Alta Vista demonstration, they have had them at similar events. Lester Edmunds had his horses powering a stationary baler for a demonstration earlier in the month at the High Ground Museum near Council Grove.

Bruce Anderson coordinates draft horse farming demonstrations during Yoder Days in the Reno County Amish community. As a member of the Kansas Draft Horse Association, Bruce Anderson has assisted with the large annual Draft Horse Show at the Kansas State Fair. He was working at the entrance gate throughout the show this year.

An antique John Deere tractor was “belted up” to an old corn sheller as bundles were tossed aboard by volunteers, and big yellow corn kernels flowed abundantly into the grain truck at field side during old time farming demonstrations organized by Ag Heritage Park of Alta Vista.

Horse power is far from dead and gone, and with rising overhead could become more prominent again, according to Ralph and Bruce Anderson and Lester Edmunds, and his son Randy.

The younger Edmunds  doesn’t have any teams today, but assists his dad, and was at ringside watching the demonstrations and expressing importance of horse power in the past and potentially in days ahead.

In reference to earlier commentary, “Gee (pronounced jee) means to turn to the off side, away from the horse team’s driver. Haw means to turn to the near side, towards the driver.”

While Saturday’s event was a demonstration, corn husking is a major competition in many communities. Unrecorded husking contests took place on many farms when the boss would challenge his hired-man to see who could get to the end of the field before the other.

Occasionally, farmer-neighbors would declare over the fence: “I’ll race you to the other end,” and the race  would be on. These friendly jousts helped to take some of the tedium out of the wrist-hurting, back-tiring and arm-frazzling job of harvesting the farmers’ biggest cash crop: corn.

“The primary object of the organized corn husking contest was to see who could husk the most ear-corn in a given time, from standing rows  and thrown into a wagon, with each load subject to deductions,” Bruce Anderson noted.

 A proficient corn husker, Bruce Anderson placed first place in the novice division of  the North Central Kansas Corn Husking Contest at Courtland in 1982. He also placed high in several other husking competitions through the 1980s and into the 1990s, but no longer participates in the contests.

Although a number of corn husking contests are scheduled throughout the Midwest, the Kansas State Corn Husking Contest is at Oakley on October 11. The National Corn Husking Contest is in Amana, Iowa, October 19.

Nearly a century ago, a weekly farm paper carried the following news item: “Corn cutters are making between $9 and $14 a day. The prevailing rate is from 18 to 20 cents a shock, and the average cutter is able to dispose of 50 shocks a day. A state agriculture department official said one man cut 80 shocks from sunup to sundown and received 25 cents a shock.”

 Even though the Armistice ending the Great War had gone into effect in November 1918, the wartime boom continued through 1919. Many soldiers were still on occupation duty and had not yet been demobilized.

“This meant that farm labor was in short supply and wages were high, explaining how a man who was a good corn cutter could earn the princely sum of $15 or $20 a day. The pay in 1919 may have been good, but cutting corn by hand was still slow, hard work. A man with a corn knife was fortunate if he could cut and shock an acre and a half per day,” one historical review reported.

Several of those attending the Ag Heritage Park reminisced stories heard from forefathers of corn husking days bygone.

“One farmer said he’d get up at four o’clock, shuck a wagon load of corn, milk the cows, scoop the corn off the wagon, have dinner, shuck another load of corn, milk the cows again, and scoop the load of corn off before supper. That made for a long day,” Swartz commented.

It was a different time, for sure.



Old Fashioned Threshing To Highlight 57th Annual Weekend Celebration At McLouth

The McLouth Threshing Bee is one of the longest running old time threshing bees in the nation, now celebrating 57 years.

“Come visit our annual threshing bee and all of the related activities Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-20-21, at the show grounds in McLouth,” welcomed Rick Stitt of the coordinating committee.

“This year, we are proud to have tractors of the 1960s as the feature tractor of the show. We’ll also an extra special event featuring the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club and the Historical Construction Equipment Association demonstrating their equipment during a work weekend.

​“You won’t want to miss seeing these machines in action,” Stitt said

“The McLouth Threshing Bee was started in the 1950s when a local man by the name of Slim Watson had the idea to invite people out to his home, serve them some food, and give a little demonstration on how his farm equipment worked. It was a really big hit, and it has continued since that time, and with the help of many the tradition is continuing today,” Stitt said. 

“This special attraction helps to keep alive the art of planting, harvesting, threshing and storing of grain forage crops, along with the domestic arts, and the tools, implements, instruments and machinery showing the culture of pioneer days,” Stitt continued. “Educational and historical exhibits and displays are illustrated through reenactments with the working machinery.”

index~~element4[1]In addition to threshing daily at 10 o’clock, and again at 2 o’clock, there will be a flea market open all three days, as well as a rock crusher, corn picking and shelling, and a sawmill in operation throughout the show.

An antique and classic tractor pull for tractors 1950, and earlier, is set for Saturday, Sept. 20, with weigh in at 12:30, and competition beginning at 2 o’clock.

A Parade of Power, at 1 o’clock, will also feature a Drive-In Car Show, and the Pedal Tractor Pull begins at 5 o’clock. Sunday’s highlight is the Garden Tractor Pull at 1 o’clock.

Admission to the 57th annual McLouth Threshing bee is free for all spectators as well as exhibitors with no charge for coolers either, although no glass bottles will be allowed. Likewise, donations have been welcomed to keep the show continuing for years and decades to come.

Overnight camping sites are available, although seating is limited, with those attending asked to bring lawn chairs.

Information is available at www.mclouththreshingbee.com, and on Facebook.

Those interested in the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club and the Historical Construction Equipment Association can learn more about the organizations at www.acmoc.org, and www.hcea.net.

Power Of The Past Antique Engine And Tractor Show Turns Back Pages At Ottawa This Weekend

The way farming used to be.

“That’s the 20th annual Power of the Past Antique Engine And Tractor Show Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12-13-14, at Forest park on north Locust in Ottawa,” announced Bob Stevanus, official of the Power of the Past Antique Engine and Tractor Association.

“The group started as a gathering of a handful of antique engine and tractor buffs in 1995. With nine members, Lewis Reed was our first president. Through the years, we have grown to nearly 400 members,” said Stevanus, adding that the Franklin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is cosponsoring the show.

This year, the 20th annual Power of the Past Antique Engine And Tractor Show, September 12-13-14, in Ottawa will feature John Deere tractors and engines. There will be a drawing for this restored John Deere tractor to given away during the show.

“Our organization’s mission is to preserve the past, bring back the memories of days gone by, and create a learning experience for younger generations through demonstrations of equipment at various events throughout the year,” Stevanus related.       “One reason for starting the organization is that the Warner Manufacturing Company was located in Ottawa, until the early 1950s. Warner manufactured Ottawa engines, making Ottawa the perfect site for people to see the gas and horse-powered farm implements of the past” the enthusiast said.

“However, this show is much more than a gathering of gas engine and tractor enthusiasts, although those are pretty amazing when all of the engines are chugging at once,” he added.

“With the passage of time, many of our younger generation have never seen or experienced farm life in its heyday. We’re creating a learning experience with this event, where the future meets the past.    “We say to senior citizens in our community, come out and see the farm equipment of your youth. To the younger generation, we say observe an experience of a ‘pre-computer’ age. Everyone should see the Power of the Past,” Stevanus assured.      This year will feature John Deere tractors and engines. “There will be a drawing for a restored John Deere to given away during the show. So, don’t miss your chance to be a winner,” Stevanus declared.      “Transportation is to be provided for those with problems walking, but there will be no RV hookups available, and no alcohol allowed in the park,” Stevanus noted.

Kickoff is breakfast Friday morning, Sept. 12, with the national anthem at 8 o’clock, also on the early schedule for all three days.

Likewise, daily attractions from 10 o’clock, to dusk are live music, horse drawn rides, an antique planer, drag saw demonstrations, rock crushing, hay baling, feed grinding with horse teams, soap making, an operating saw mill, rope making, an operating cider press and homemade ice cream.

Power of the Past
A Parade of Power, each day at 1 o’clock, will be a traditional attraction at the 20th annual Power of the Past Antique Engine And Tractor Show, September 12-13-14, in Ottawa.

Highlight for many is the Parade of Power every day at 1 o’clock, with many of the display tractors and engines to be paraded around the show grounds.

There’ll be a free ham and bean supper Friday starting at 4 o’clock, until gone,

A kiddie tractor pull is Saturday morning at 9:30, and there will be a fund raising auction of donated merchandise beginning at 10:30. The garden tractor pull is at 2 o’clock, Saturday, when the Kiddie Corner is also to be open.

Always an attraction is the ladies skillet toss and shoe throw, Saturday at 3:30. Live music by The Odds & Ends Band is scheduled from 5 to 7 o’clock, Saturday evening.

Church begins at 8:30 Sunday morning with wrap-up of the big three days being the Parade of Power at 1 o’clock, Sunday.

Of interest to many, tractors and engines featured in the past have included Oliver-Hart Parr tractors and Fairbanks Morse engines, 2207; Allis Chalmers tractors and Maytag engines, 2008; Massey Harris tractors and Monitor engines, 2009; Ford tractors and Cushman engines, 2010; Case tractors and Witte engines, 2011; Minneapolis Moline tractors and Ottawa engines, 2012; and International Harvester Company (IHC) tractors and engines, 2013.

Upcoming shows are to feature Orphans and lesser-known tractors and engines, 2015; Oliver-Hart Parr tractors and Fairbanks Morse engines, 2016; Gathering of the Orange Allis Chalmers National Show and Maytag engines, 2017; and Massey Harris/Ferguson tractors and Monitor engines, 2018.

Details are available at www.powerofthepast.net, and www.visitottawakansas.com.



Proposed Water Rule Draws Concerns Of Intrusion On Farmers And Ranchers Rights

There seems to be another government invasion on agriculture producers’ already dedicated efforts to care for resources so important to their survival and profitability.

Certainly, there is concern about impact of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule.

As of now, the Clean Water Act of 1972 only applies to “navigable waters,” but agriculture producers fear any creek, stream and ditch would be subject in the proposed new rule, when all of the fine print is deciphered.

A detailed look at the complicated government writing, and the loopholes difficult for lay agriculturalists to find, was presented and evaluated by Aaron Popelka, vice president of legal and government affairs for the Kansas Livestock Association, during the 580 WIBW Beef Producers Information Seminar at Emporia.

Preceding his remarks, Popelka emphasized the one and only possible reprieve for farmers and ranchers is that they have an opportunity to comment on the proposal until October 20, before it can be signed into law.

“It is essential to make the agriculture side of this very important issue heard loud and clear,” Popelka contended.

The rule is said to seek to clarify the definition of waters subject to the regulatory scope of the Clean Water Act, which was more narrowly defined in 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings. The proposed rule would replace 2003, 2008, and 2011 guidance issued after the court rulings created uncertainty.

According to EPA and the Army Corps, “The rule would subject about 3 percent more U.S. waters to Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

“While the proposed rule would expand jurisdiction from existing EPA-Corps guidance, it would not enlarge the jurisdiction beyond the Supreme Court’s narrow reading,” they have claimed.

The additions come from new types and categories of, such as those adjacent to waters, as well as “other waters,” which have not traditionally been considered navigable, and do not meet other jurisdictional definitions.

Most of the controversy, surrounding the rule, focuses on these “other waters,” such as creeks, streams and ditches.

The EPA and Army Corps analyses show that about 17 percent of “other waters” would be jurisdictional under the proposed rule.

However, supposedly under the proposed rule, features such as prior converted cropland and certain ditches would not become jurisdictional.

“The proposed rule also makes no change to existing statutory and regulatory permit exclusions, such as those given to the agricultural sector,” EPA-Corps officials have insisted

“I think it’s a philosophy difference,” Popelka said. “They think the federal government ought to be the one that controls every aspect of water regulation. Those of us in the agriculture industry think that this ought to be left to the states, which it is in the Clean Water Act.”

Main issue at hand is between those making and enforcing regulations and the producers who need and use the water.

“Part of it has to do with that only 3 percent of us are in agriculture, and only 1 percent of these are cattlemen,” Popelka said. “I think the government is so far removed that they don’t understand that there’s mistrust.

“The regulators think we want to hurt the land that provides us with our livelihood, and that’s just not the case,” Popelka emphasized.

A handful of ranchers quoted in the Emporia Gazette about their opinions on the proposed water ruling verified deep concerns of the industry.

Jeff Davidson, watershed specialist from Eureka, said, “I think EPA is way overstepping their bounds, and I kind of feel like they’re trying to mislead us.”

Greg Gasche, Hartford cattleman contended. “It’s something we really need to be concerned about. We need to address it with our representatives.” ‘

Likewise, Jaret Moyer, Emporia rancher, insisted, “The EPA appears to be trying to make quite a reach into what areas they regulate. It’s a substantial expansion from what they’ve done in the past.”

Agriculture producers were encouraged by Popelka to visit www.kla.org, and follow the links to send a letter of opinion to the EPA.

“There is a letter already drafted, but producers can add their own situation and story to the letter. It’s also a good idea to contact your congressmen to voice opinions on the proposed water ruling,” Popelka urged.

Tractor, Truck Pull Saturday Evening South Of Holton

Start your engines and get ready for excitement, fire and smoke fun for all.”

That’s the welcome from Deb Dillner as she announced the Jackson County Tractor and Truck Pull scheduled Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Northeast Kansas Heritage Complex south of Holton.

“The Jackson County Fair Association is hosting the  tractor and truck pull for the second year as a fundraiser toward continued construction of the Northeast Kansas Heritage Complex facilities,” according to Dillner, fair association official.

 Gates will open at 3 o’clock, and competition gets underway at 6 o’clock.   

Sanctioned by NK Pullers, the Holton pull will feature the X-Factor Sled and is to include 13 classes of competition.

There be events for various sizes of two and four wheel drive modified pickups, as well several sizes of professional, hot farm, modified and turbo tractors.  Participant registration is open from 3 o’clock to 5:30.

While the Northeast Kansas Heritage Complex is located 1½ miles south of Holton, on Highway 75, and then and one-quarter mile west on 214 Road, all attendees, both spectators and participants, will  need to use the south entrance on 214 Road, Dillner pointed out.

Concessions will be available on the grounds. Coolers are welcome for a $5 fee at the gate, but no glass is requested, Dillner emphasized.

“Class sponsorships are still available, so if you or your business would like to sponsor a class for this fundraiser, please contact me at 785-250-4230,” Dillner said.

“Additional bleacher seating is available this year, so load up the family, come join the fun and feel the rumble at the tractor and pickup pull Saturday night south of Holton,” Dillner welcomed.

Rural Community Picks Up Pace And Size When Mud Runners Have Competition Saturday

Alta Vista’s population will more than double when the Mud Runners come to town.

“We’ll have contestants from four states and spectators from throughout the Midwest for our Alta Vista Summer Mud Run, right at the south edge of Alta Visa, Saturday, Aug. 16, with gates opening at 8 o’clock, and competition beginning at noon,” announced Crystal Brabb, enthusiastic promoter-coordinator of the family-oriented event, and official of the Alta Vista Chamber of Commerce, run sponsors.

“This is the 17th year the Chamber has sponsored a truck mud run as our major fund raising activity of the year. They’ve become so popular that we’ve had two runs annually for the past three years,” Brabb continued, noting special the community’s special Easter, Old Setters’ Day, Halloween, and Christmas promotions, as well.

A permanent Alta Vista Mud Run Course has been established just inside the south side city limits of the eastern Wabaunsee County, Kansas, community. The 200-foot long pit is the most important part, and there is also a permanent concession-office structure, and ample bleacher seating.

mud run 1 1236006_354017641397355_887397063_n (1)
Jerry and Tyler Glessner of Alta Vista has been working on this vehicle they’ll have entered in the Alta Vista Mud Run Saturday, Aug. 16, beginning at noon. Sanctioned by Kansas Mud Boggers, the competition is expected to attract entries from Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and all over Kansas. But, there’ll be an array of open classes, so anybody interested in trying the sport can run their vehicle in the mud.

“However, many spectators prefer to bring their portable canopies and lawn chairs, so they can get more involved in the excitement,” Brabb said. “The pit has been completely renovated in the past couple of years, so the mud runner contestants really like to come here for that reason, let alone all of the extra effort we put into the event.

Sanctioned by the Kansas Mud Boggers (KMB), headquartered at Carbondale, entries will definitely be in attendance from four states: Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and of course from throughout Kansas.

“We had 71 entries at our spring run this year, but it was raining, so we’re sure expecting more participants this summer. Again, sometimes it depends on the weather, but the crowds are always big, and there’ll likely be more than 700 spectators watching from the sidelines,” forecasted Brabb, noting that there are only 483 people living in Alta Vista.

“Obviously, the community’s population really grows when we have a mud run, and downtown businesses, several which are quite unique in their own right, will be open to cater to those special visitors,” Brabb related.related. “Our new Alta Vista Market is even hosting a Farmer’s Market in the backyard of their neighboring Bill’s Barber Shop, throughout the morning.”

While many of the contestants will be vying for KMB points, there’ll also be a good number of KMRO (Kansas Mud Runners Organization) participants, as well as numerous others just wanting to enter, or suddenly get the urge to try out the inimitable sport.

Originally, there were mostly local farm trucks come in to see how far they could pull in the mud, but now there’ll be classes for almost every variety of mud puller imaginable.

“We have many different divisions, depending if the truck is stock, or modified, as well as the type and size of tires, and other variables,” according to the promoter.

Winners will be determined by either distance or speed. “For those who don’t make it the full 200-feet of the pit, the one going the furthest is the winner. And, for those contestants getting through the mud, those with the fastest times receive the prizes,” Brabb clarified.

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Brian Hestermann, Council Grove, has participated in a number of mud runs with this unique vehicle, and he’ll be driving it Saturday afternoon in the Alta Vista Mud Run, hoping to take home one of the three trophies plus prize money to be presented top entries in every class.

Entry fees are paid by contestants, and trophies will be awarded the top three entries in every division, along with payback, depending on the number competing in that particular category.   

“Anybody who wants to enter is welcome, and there’ll definitely be a class to fit your type of vehicle. Finale of every mud run is a ‘run what you brung class,’ and that is usually the real climax for the day, when some guy or gal who just has a plain ole highway pickup and wants to get in on the fun of running in the mud,” Brabb said.

Kickoff-event is the Mini-Boggers for youngsters two to 13 years of age on their power wheels starting right at noon. The main mud run begins at 1 o’clock, with the rail class featuring vehicles designed and built specifically for mud running. Competition is likely to continue until about dark, based on the number of entries.

Highlight for this summer’s Alta Vista Mud Run is a live remote broadcast of The BIG 94.5 Country, from 1 to 4, with the ever popular mid-day personality Stephanie Lynn as host for the fun affair.

“These mud runs are really family oriented events with good ole boys and their trucks playing in the mud. Everyone wants to win, but everybody is anxious to help out their competitors, if they need a part, or assistance in any way. It’s a very big happy well rounded organization,” Brabb verified.

Reflecting a first time spectator at this spring’s Alta Vista Mud Run, Brabb said, “This women had never been to anything like it, and she came up to me all excited about how much fun she was having, and how everybody seemed to be having such a good time. The lady said she’d was never going to miss another mud run and was going to tell all of her friends and acquaintances to come, too.

“We sure invite everybody to come to the Alta Vista Mud Run Saturday, Aug. 16, starting at noon, for one of the best times you’ve ever had in your life. And, you’ll also come back next time,” Brabb welcomed.

Details are available at Alta Vista Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, and at www.bogginginthevista.com.


Professional Cowboys And Cowgirls At Kaw Valley Rodeo In Manhattan

Time flies when there’s success, and that’s clearly the case with the Kaw Valley Rodeo at Manhattan.

“We’re planning the 39th annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competition Thursday through Saturday evenings, July 24 through 26, at 8 o’clock in Cico Park,” according to Steve Frazier, a rodeo committeeman for a number of those years.

There’ll be seven traditional rodeo events with top rated cowboys and cowgirls, plus kids’ calf scrambles and mutton busting competitions performance.10358574_10152135646686707_2345719523945310947_n[1] (2)

Thursday has been designated Military Application Night as well as Kids’ Night with a picnic and free admittance to military family, as well as for all children 12 and under, who donate a can of food.

Friday will be Tough Enough to Wear Pink night benefitting cancer research, and a Special Rodeo (shown) for youngsters, starts, at 7 p.m.

Full details are at www.kawvalleyrodeo.com.

The One Arm Bandit & Company Buffalo Act At Junction City Rodeo

It’ll almost seem like the pages of history have turned back in time more than a century and a half.

“Buffalo just like those roamed the Flint Hills in the 1800s will be star attraction of the 21st annual Junction City Rodeo Friday and Saturday, July 18-19, at the Geary County Fairgrounds, 1025 South Spring Valley Road, Junction City,” announced Darryl Blocker, official of the Junction City Rodeo Association.

However, rodeo is what the action is really all about, clarified Blocker. Recognized as one of the “largest open rodeos in Kansas,” contestants from all over the state come to compete in the performances at 7:30 each evening.

“This is an open competition rodeo which offers competition in several different events and provides exciting action for the entire family to enjoy. Come watch the saddle broncs, bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and bull riding,” Blocker explained.

Each night, the kids’ events will include a calf scramble, mutton busting, mini bull riding and junior barrel racing, the rodeo official said. A Special Needs Rodeo is also scheduled Saturday, July 19, from 10 o’clock to noon, with information available at 785-210-6538.

images[2] (2)However, few could argue highlight of both evening’s rodeo performances will be return of the One Armed Bandit& Company, the 12 time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Specialty Act of the Year.

“For those who haven’t heard of the company, it was originated by John Payne, who lost an arm in an electrical construction accident, but never let that completely get him down, developing a rodeo act with horses, Longhorns and buffalo. Last year, his daughter Amanda and her family were here, and entertained by loading horses on the back of a trailer in the arena.

“This year, his son Lynn will bring buffalo from their Shidler, Oklahoma, ranch, and load them on top of another large stock trailer in an extraordinaire presentation of a talented well-mounted cowboy working expertly, effectively with large typically fierce animals native to the Flint Hills of Kansas,” Blocker promised.

“In the 1860s, buffalo were 60 million strong, dominating the landscape.  It was often said ‘Buffalo were so plentiful that a man could walk horizon to horizon on their backs and never touch the ground.’ Herds could be 100 miles across, taking days to pass; when stampeded they can run a distance of 30 miles, at 30 miles an hour,” Blocker clarified.

“Embedded deep in North American history, buffalo have left a rich and unequalled legacy of feeding a struggling nation in its infancy. An integral part of early-day Wild West Shows and now in rodeo the buffalo deserve the right, and have paid the price, to truly be: a celebrated American icon. You’ll get to see them at the Junction City Rodeo,” John Payne verified.

One Getaway Steer Only Slight Setback For Top Kansas College Rodeo Cowboy

“That’s the reason we play the game.”

Broken hearts can come from not only lost loves.

While he wouldn’t readily admit such, and didn’t experience a crushed body organ, one of the best college cowboys in the country acknowledged intense emotional pain of similar sort.

“I had a great year on the college rodeo circuit, won the Central Plains Region, and things were really going well until my last steer,” reflected Tanner Brunner, who just returned from the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.

“It really was a heart breaker for Tanner. He’s been bulldogging good all year, and only had to be seven (seconds) on his last run. That didn’t pan out the way we’d all hoped, but Tanner was still ninth in the yearend college steer wrestling standings,” credited Doug Muller, coach of the Kansas State University Rodeo Team, of which Brunner is a member.

“Tanner is truly one of the top young steer wrestlers in the country. He has another two years of college eligibility to make the college finals. I’m confident he’ll be there and win the yearend steer wrestling title. Tanner has the potential to make it on the professional circuit, too,” Muller continued.

Set for the third year on his college rodeo team, competing in National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association events, Brunner, at six-foot-two, 225-pounds, is a Ramona, Kansas, ranch native studying animal Science at K-State, where he’ll be a senior this fall.

Despite the initial college rodeo finals letdown, Brunner referred to his opening comment. “You win some, and, even though it’s generally hard to swallow, you lose some, too. That’s the reason we play the game,” he evaluated honestly.

“We came home, revamped and are headed to a rodeo in South Dakota. We’re entered in a lot of rodeos in the next week and a half. Fourth of July is considered the Cowboy’s Christmas, because of the number of rodeos a cowboy can enter. I sure want to take full advantage of that,” Brunner enthusiastically recognized.

“I can’t let one run hold me back. Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes to win the next rodeo,” he added emphatically.

Rundown of Brunner’s college finals bulldogging action was related by Muller. With a 5.4 seconds run in the first go-round, Brunner split seventh three ways. He was in a three-way tie for third with 4.7 seconds on his second steer, and outright won the third go-round with a 4.1 seconds run.

“A well below average run on that last steer would have made Tanner a world champion. He got out good, but just wasn’t able to get down after the steer moved too close to his own horse,” Muller critiqued.

Brunner has again run that getaway steer a thousand times in his mind since the finals action. “On my short go run, the steer stepped into me and my horse. I should have got down a stride sooner, if I was going to have a chance to catch that steer,” the young cowboy reflected.

It’s far from a disgrace to not attempt bulldogging a steer when it doesn’t appear to be  ideal for a winning run. Yet, that is still truly a quite unusual scenario for this college steer wrestler.

“I’ve bulldogged at more than 60 rodeos in the last year, and there have only been a handful of steers that I haven’t got down on,” Brunner calculated.

As a member of the Kansas State University Rodeo Team, Tanner Brunner. Ramona, placed first in the third go-round of steer wrestling with a time of 4.1 seconds at the recent National College Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. En route to the national competition, Brunner won the steer wrestling event in the Central Plain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. (Photo courtesy of rodeo photographer Dan Hubbell.)

Yet, he adamantly clarified: “There are a lot of factors that come into play. There is a legitimate reason when a contestant doesn’t get down on a steer  Now, I’m younger, and am willing to take more chances.”

Competing at 10 college  rodeos in Kansas and Oklahoma, plus the finals, this circuit year,  Brunner bulldogged 19 college rodeo steers, making the short go-round in all except one rodeo, and was 20 points ahead of the runner-up to claim the regional championship.

Not the biggest win of the season, but an important one for Brunner was on his home turf. Captain of his college rodeo team, Brunner won the steer wrestling competition at the annual Kansas State University Rodeo in Manhattan during February.

There were 42 college cowboys in steer wrestling at the K-State Rodeo. Brunner threw his steer in 6.9 seconds in the long-go-round, then was first in the short-go-round finals with 5-seconds flat, to win the average in 11.9 seconds.

While that was a most significant accomplishment for the college cowboy, Brunner had collected major checks steer wrestling at Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos just days earlier.

During January, Brunner won the steer wrestling at a PRCA rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska, dropping his bovine in 5.3 seconds, to collect $1,200 prize money, and rank him in the early year standings among the very best professional rodeo cowboys in the world.

In the PRCA steer wrestling at the Southwestern Livestock Exposition Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, during late January, Brunner was second in the second-go-round, flattening his steer in 3.8 seconds.

While Brunner wasn’t anxious to admit it, the $4,600 paycheck moved him into the top 20 PRCA steer wrestlers at that time. “That was the biggest win in my career to date, but the standings change about every day. I really don’t keep track,” conceded the cowboy, who still has competed in about15 pro rodeos this year, collecting checks at several more.

To compete successfully in steer wrestling at these levels requires ability, practice and good horses. “I’ve worked with lots of cowboys in my career, and Tanner has the talent to be a champion wherever he competes,” Muller evaluated.

“Chancy Larson, a professional steer wrestler at Manhattan, has an arena, dogging steers and good horses, so we practice a lot at his place,” Brunner noted.

Starting out in junior rodeos, Brunner credited: “My parents helped me as much as they could. I started throwing steers on the ground in junior high with Dad teaching me the basics. I ended up winning the chute dogging my last year in the Kansas junior high division,” related Brunner, who culminated by  winning the Kansas high school steer wrestling finals his senior year.

Frequently when competing at PRCA rodeos, Brunner will use a bulldogging team being hauled by another cowboy. “I was fortunate at the finals to be able to bulldog on a 23-year-oldl gelding owned by Cody Woodward, assistant coach of the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rodeo Team at Alva. I sure do appreciate that,” Brunner noted.

“I often do travel to rodeos with Chancy. He’s a good hand, one of the top steer wrestlers in the PRCA Prairie Circuit every year,” Brunner said.

“I started coming to Chancy’s to practice at the end of my sophomore year of high school and have learned all of the little things that make a good bulldogging run from him and a few other guys who have helped me,” Brunner appreciated.

Rodeo runs in Brunner’s veins as his parents had successful rodeo careers. His dad Tracy, mom Yvonne and sister Cat all competed on the K-State Rodeo Team, as did an aunt and an uncle.

Looking to eventually being involved in extensive Brunner family ranching operations in Marion County, that may be decades away.

“I practice every day when the weather allows. I’ve been practicing hard, and it’s paid off, but my education comes first,” the humble cowboy contended

Accomplishing a goal set earlier in the year, Tanner was the college regional champion steer wrestler and made a most admirable effort at the National Finals College Rodeo.

Next in line for the cowboy’s plans: “I will go to PRCA rodeos through the Midwest this summer, compete in some United Rodeo Association events, too, and try to qualify for the URA Finals this fall in Topeka. Back to college in August, I hope to again win the region and then win the college finals a year from now.

“My intentions are to rodeo professionally fulltime after I graduate.  I’d like to compete at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, and become a world champion,” the outstanding college steer wrestler summarized.


Santa Fe Trail Working Ranch Rodeo At Council Grove July 4-5

Working ranch cowboys from several Midwest states will converge on County Grove this weekend.

“It’s the 28th annual Santa Fe Trail Ranch Rodeo, Friday and Saturday evenings, July 4-5, in the arena east of Council Grove, just off Highway 56, beginning at 7 o’clock,” announced Clay Wilson, president of the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association (MCYRA), rodeo sponsor.

Sanctioned by the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association (WRCA), competition will feature ranch teams each represented by four working ranch cowboys. Events are to include wild cow milking, stray gathering, team penning, calf branding and ranch bronc riding.

Points from both evenings’ performances will be totaled, and the top team is automatically qualified for the WRCW Finals later this year in Amarillo, Texas.

Contrasting to saddle bronc riding at amateur and professional rodeos, ranch bronc riding allows cowboys to “grab leather, hoop, holler, wave their hat and carry on” as they ride toward the qualifying eight-second whistle during Working Ranch Cowboys Association rodeos. Cowboys from throughout the Midwest are expected to match their riding skills with big stout bronc’s bucking ability during the 28th annual Santa Fe Trail Ranch Rodeo, July 4-5, at Council Grove.
     A trade show  featuring vendors selling Western tack, clothing, accessories and home décor is planned both evenings. A snack shack operated by the sponsoring organization is scheduled to be open as well.

The MYRA Summer Junior Ranch Rodeo, with three-member teams made up  with cowboys and cowgirls, 13 years of age and under, is scheduled for Saturday morning, July 5, at 10 o’clock.

Events are team penning, ribbon roping, and calf branding. Entries can be made by calling Wilson at 785-466-1359, and will also be accepted the day of the rodeo.

The Morris County Youth Rodeo Association has also scheduled the annual MCYRA Youth Rodeo, Saturday, Aug. 2, 6 p.m., and the annual MCYRA Fall Ranch Rodeo, Sunday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m., with a Junior Ranch Rodeo at 10 a.m.

Details for all activities can be found at www.mrcoyouthrodeo.com.