Inaugural tractor ride memorializes Peterson

PALMER – Whether they are green John Deeres, red Farmalls or blue New Hollands, farm tractors are a common site on the back roads of Iowa.

But the rainbow of makes and models progressing along the byways of Pocahontas, Calhoun and Webster counties Saturday were not headed to the fields to work crops. Instead, they rolled along on a 50-mile route as part of the inaugural Memorial Tractor Ride 4 Ryan.

The event was organized by Andy and Raye Peterson in memory of their son, Ryan Peterson, who passed away last year at the age of 35 after a sudden illness.

“We decided the day he passed away that we would do this,” said Andy Peterson. “He liked to mess with tractors and he enjoyed riding them. He had been going to the Albert City Threshermen’s and Collectors’ Show since he was 6 years old. His grandpa took him and was really the one who got him started in it.”

Described as an avid John Deere fan, Ryan Peterson was in the midst of restoring a 1937 John Deere A when he died. In keeping with his desire to complete the project, his father and brother re-assembled it and had it painted. In fact, the tractor was on a trailer and lined up for the memorial ride. The machine couldn’t be driven, Andy Peterson said, because at seven miles an hour it goes too slow to keep up with the flow of the ride.

The parade of machinery began in Palmer City Park before traveling to Manson to be part of the Manson Greater Crater Days parade. Lunch was then served in Knierem and a stop was made in Clare before the tractors swung back west and returned to Palmer.

Palmer, an ag-based community, has a fondness for tractor rides, Andy Peterson said. Past rides brought more than 100 machines to line up along Main Street, and while the events are a well-regarded means of remembering those who have passed, they also draw families and friends back to the area to spend time together, like Brian Hartman, of Ankeny, and Bruce Hartman, of Huxley. The brothers were taking part in the ride using their late father’s 1948 8N Ford tractor.

“Our father was born and raised on the farm here,” Brian Hartman said, “and of course we were born and raised on the farm. Before he passed, he told us he wanted us to keep that tractor in the family. It meant so much to him and now it comes down to us. You know, I just got that trailer last week just to bring it here for the ride.”