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Lankin, N.D., makes antique tractor ride a tradition

Colt Olson, 3, sits on his father's antique Farmall tractor Saturday morning on Main Street in Lankin, North Dakota before the start of the annual antique tractor ride. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald1 / 6
Galen Bosh, right, and others enjoy beers and conversations Saturday morning before the start of the annual antique tractor ride in Lankin. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald2 / 6
Lankin, North Dakota sits on the horizon as Jay Praska leads a long line of antique tractors down the highway on his father's 1944 John Deere BN during the annual antique tractor ride, hosted by Praska's father Francis. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald3 / 6
Event organizer Francis Praska stands on his brother's farm Saturday morning at the halfway point of the annual Lankin Antique Tractor Ride. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald4 / 6
Tractor engines roar to a start and owners ready themselves to drive nearly 10 miles back to Lankin during the annual Lankin Antique Tractor Ride. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald5 / 6
John Kosobud rides on a trailer during the annual Lankin Antique Tractor Ride. Kosobud has attended every tractor ride and used to pull a trailer of his own just a few years ago. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald6 / 6

LANKIN, N.D. — A caravan of tractors stretching for more than a mile dominated the road around this town Saturday.

Kay Ondracek, who traveled from New Mexico to drive a 1948 Ford tractor in the 17-mile parade for the first time with her mother, said it’s a way to “bring people back to old times.”

“(The parade) brings me back to growing up here on a farm and how it taught me what I did and didn’t want to do with my life,” she said.

Fifty-two tractors participated in the seventh Antique Tractor Ride, which drew more than 150 participants, both drivers and passengers, to this Walsh County town of about 100.

To be eligible to enter the parade, tractors had to be 1960 models or older.

They remind the older generation in the area of “simpler times,” said John Kosobud, a lifelong resident of the town who has attended every tractor ride since it was started in 2007.

“It was a better time,” he said. “There were a lot more little farms back then.”

Lankin, located just off state Highway 32, is 65 miles by road from Grand Forks.


Consisting of an assortment of tractor models, the parade sped along at about 8 mph for seven miles to the first leg of the trek at a small farm east Lankin where drivers and passengers ate lunch and observed the horde of antique machinery still hot from the journey.

Gale Beneda of Lankin spent the day with her two grandchildren riding on one of the tractor-pulled trailers filled with passengers, pointing out interesting aspects of the machinery being displayed.

“It’s good for the young people to see how it used to be and see them take an interest in it,” Beneda said.

It was the first time her grandchildren — Izra and Evan Skibicki — had been in a tractor parade.

“It rocks,” Izra, 6, said as Evan, 5, gave a thumbs up.

The 10-mile route back to Lankin was filled with conversation and laughter in each of the passenger trailers, which each held about 15 people.

Also experiencing their first tractor parade was Nora and Dale Bakkum of Mayville, N.D., who decided it was time to get involved with one after winning a 1952 Allis Chalmers for $1 in raffle drawing six years ago.

“We do a lot of small town celebrations with the tractor,” Nora said. “I know people up here so we decided to bring it up and see what it was about.”

A new tradition

The idea for a tractor parade began in 2005, when Frances Praske of Lankin was brainstorming events to celebrate the town’s centennial. He said it wasn’t until 2007 that the tractor parade eventually became a tradition.

“I thought since everyone has these tractors in sheds it’d be nice to show people them,” Praske said. “The best things about it is meeting people with these tractors and getting everyone together to visit.”

He and his wife, Marilyn, said the event will continue in the future, so long as their health permits.

Shar Holmen, their daughter, said the event is important to continue because it allows the younger generation to learn with the older generation.

“It’s fun seeing these old tractors and to see how much pride these guys have from putting work into them,” she said. “It’s going to be a lost generation pretty soon, which is why this is so great.”

Call Opstedahl at (701) 780-1137; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1137; or send email to