Autumn awesomeness abounds in Waterford
By Maureen Vander Sanden
Explore Waterford volunteer
Waterford’s annual tractorcade will roll through town Sunday, Oct. 3, departing from Whitford Park at 9 a.m., before hitting 30 miles of colorful countryside in collaboration with the Lions Club of Waterford’s Chicken BBQ.
The brainchild of retired farmer Jerry Weinkauf and Lion Gary Tilleros, the tractorcade tradition began in 2009 to complement the Lion’s long-running, signature cookout fundraiser.
The tractor display has been a “win-win” according to Tilleros, who said it provides an attraction to the event and boosts community pride in its agricultural attributes.
For Weinkauf and the tractor drivers, it’s an opportunity to see the splendor of fall, share their love for tractors to the community and the joy of camaraderie.
“There are a lot of farmers in the area who have had these old tractors and they made a living with them. Now they can sit back on these tractors and enjoy the rides and see parts of the county that they used to harvest, and see how much (has) changed,” he said. Weinkauf himself lives in a subdivision outside of Rochester that was a field he once farmed.
Each year the route changes and with an average of 50 tractors and growing, the organizers depend on the Racine County Sheriff’s Office and Waterford Police Department to help cross tractors at busy intersections and keep everyone safe – “a tremendous assistance,” Tilleros said.
Weinkauf also credits his family for their support in organizing the event, and gave a special “shout out” to driver Jerry Hoppe, who acts as the ‘cade caboose, ensuring that no tractors break down or get left behind.
Spectators will see a tractor in every color, and in many varieties, Weinkauf promised, rattling off classics including International Harvesters, John Deere, Oliver, Case, Allis Chalmers, New Holland, Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson, to name a few.
“Many of these tractors are restored, but some come in their ‘work clothes’,” Weinkauf said, a phrase in the farm world meaning they’re unrestored but run well.
There is a lot of sentiment in the ride for some. There are drivers who are now deceased and remembered along the route and younger drivers who have inherited tractors, continuing the tradition in their loved ones’ honor.
This year, Weinkauf is recovering after a hospital stint so he won’t be seen from atop his 1953 Farmall Super M. His son Nick will have the honor of driving it this year. Weinkauf’s other son Nate will lead the ride, behind the wheel of his IH 3088.
Weinkauf recommends catching the tractorcade from along Machine Road or at the Crossover Cantina, 28023 Kramer Road at about 9:15 a.m. For a route map, visit waterfordlionsclub.org, or follow Lions Club of Waterford on Facebook.
Get your advance Chicken BBQ tickets
The Lions Chicken BBQ will take place at Whitford Park, 625 N. River Road, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for curbside pickup only.
Advance tickets are $12 and are available from any Waterford Lions Club member, or at River City Lanes, 730 Cornerstone Crossing; Bon Voyage World Travel, 116 N. Milwaukee St.; Patriot Financial, 106 N. Milwaukee St.; Maas & Sons, 29110 Evergreen Drive, or InHome Floor & Window Fashions, 241 N. Milwaukee St.
Meals include a half chicken, baked potato, coleslaw and cookies. Tickets purchased the day of are $14.
Tractorcade BBQ: (Photo courtesy of Terry Alby) Dozens of tractors make their way through town at least year’s tractorcade, heading back to Whitford Park for the Lions Club of Waterford’s annual Chicken BBQ.
Tractorcade hilly road: (Photo courtesy of Terry Alby) A Racine County Sheriff’s deputy leads the tractorcade through one of the area’s countryside roads.
Jerry Weinkauf – (Photo courtesy of Terry Alby) Retired farmer Jerry Weinkauf, who established Waterford’s 12-year tractorcade tradition, said it’s about camaraderie among the drivers.