Kelsey Kohlhagen

Photos by Tom Sparks

Kelsey Kohlhagen, 16, of Rensselaer, competes in the senior tractor competition. She was again the overall winner in the senior division of the tractor operator competition at the Jasper County Fair.

RENSSELAER — You probably wouldn’t think that boys and girls driving farm tractors in the early morning would draw a crowd but that is exactly what happened on Saturday, July 25, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds.

The event was broken into junior and senior divisions and required a written test, a parts identification exam, a safety exam and the driving competition. The parts portion, according to Judge Kent Kohlhagen, was extra-tough this year, as new parts have been added to learn due to the ever-changing technology.

That driving competition forced the competitors to maneuver through a course lined with stakes, zig and zag around obstacles, and back up, all the while pulling a flatbed trailer. Safety and correctly attaching the trailer to the tractor was also required. The idea is to keep the penalties to a minimum so, like golf, the lower the score, the better.

The younger 4-H members went first in the junior division with 13-year-old Blake Cooley coming in first, Ty Cochran, 11, of Rensselaer, placing second and Blaine Woods, 9, of Remington, showing in third.

For the veteran members, Kelsey Kohlhagen, 16, of Rensselaer, just like last year, came out on top. Coming in second was 16-year-old Jeff Recker of DeMotte, and in third was Rensselaer 17-year-old Cody Lane. Recker was also the recipient of the memorial Spencer Davis Most-Improved Award.

All six qualified to move on to district competition on Aug. 4 in Benton County, where they can earn the right to compete at the state competition.

The event was judged by Kent Kohlhagen and Ryne Bozell.

The tractors were donated for use in the fair and during practice by Castongia’s John Deere. Pomps’ Tires in Lafayette donated four new tires for the 4-wheel hayrack.