Central Illinois doesn’t have to many exclusive lawn and garden tractor shows. Lawn tractor pulling, on the other hand, has a pretty large following. There are several clubs and many pulling events.
The first “Make a Wish” lawn tractor pull was actually held in 2005. Randall Kesselring, the founder of the event, wouldn’t have a chance to host another pull until nine years later. His dedication, to the cause, would continue to blossom and grow while he participated and promoted other events. Randall recreated the momentum in 2014 and the event grew from that point. 2016 saw the addition of an antique and vintage lawn tractor show.
Randall has been active pulling lawn tractors since 2004. The Make a Wish Foundation is a charity he holds near to his heart. He has passion for helping children dealing with a rough go in life. I met Randall in 2013 during a garden tractor pull held for a community festival in New Berlin, IL. Another friend and I were hosting a garden tractor show, going on at the same time. The tractor display was small, only consisting of twelve tractors. Four of the tractors were owned by a kid. That fact held a warm spot with Randall.
A lot of the tractor pulls, in central Illinois, have a side line show going on for an added draw. Randall saw the potential for his lawn tractor pull to have the same type of attraction. The event in New Berlin reinforced that the idea would work. He approached me to assist and we discussed the possibilities throughout 2015. In June 2016 the first show debuted, growing the Make a Wish event larger
The young man that displayed four tractors during the 2013 New Berlin event was involved again in 2016. This demonstrating a kid friendly event even more. Sadly the young man was dealing with a tragedy. His father had been taken in an automobile accident.
Young people learn to persevere and cope fairly well and stand strong. His father was very personable, and many knew the father and son duo well. All were proud to see the young man solder on, continuing to exhibit in the absence of his dad.
Lawn tractor pullers has many powerful and unique machines in front of the sled. The crowd favorite class at this particular contest is when some of the Make a Wish guest children get to pull. The owner of the tractor will walk along with them to coach. Each one manages to make a full pull, and the smiles of the children are heart warming.
The past two years had unfortunate set backs. 2017 circumstances caused the loss of the ground where the event took place in Ashland, IL. A new venue was located for 2018 that would have more room to fulfill the increased growth. Mother Nature dampened the event literally though. Last year was a rain out.
June 29, 2019 will be the triumphant return. The Cass County Fairgrounds will be the new location. Randall has informed me that several pulling clubs will be attending and it looks to be an exciting day on the track. There also will be a antique and vintage lawn tractor show taking place. Rumor has it, Randall secured a new track announcer this year. He may be a little green to the scene so its going to be interesting…..