Just this week, Kansas State Fair decided to cancel. Kansas is the latest in a list of a number of states who have called off their Fair this year. The livestock show is still going on, but other exhibits and events that typically happen during the fair will not take place this year.
While some livestock shows will still go on, other 4-H and FFA projects will not be on display. That includes everything from restored tractors both individuals and FFA chapters worked on to speeches and demonstrations.
For parents like Keith Koch, he understands the caution, but his heart breaks for his son Austin, who just finished his senior year in West Union, Iowa.
“My son has been working for two years on his grandpa's 856 and now cannot show it at the Iowa State Fair,” Koch explained in an e-mail to Machinery Pete. “We can, however, still show it at our county fair, but we were just informed the kids can't be present when they are being judged. What good is that? Half of the project is discovering what the kid knows about their project and explaining how many cuts and bruises came with it!”
That e-mail helped sprout an idea for Machinery Pete.
OK all you FFA kids out there in IA and across the country who worked your tails off on tractor restoration projects only to have county/state fair competitions canceled: This is For You! Send me pics/videos of your restoration - I'll feature on our Facebook/Twitter pages #FarmOn pic.twitter.com/EsqjB3FKSm— Greg Peterson (@MachineryPete) July 14, 2020
“These kids are missing out on life moments, milestones, important recognition for the hard work they've put in, whether on a tractor restoration project, on the athletic field, the stage or in the classroom,” says Greg Peterson, founder of Machinery Pete.
Peterson thought even if the kids can’t showcase their restored antique iron at the state fair, they should still be able to showcase their work in some way. That’s when he had the idea of sharing those stories and images with his social media followers, which includes 144,000 followers on Facebook, 27,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 39,000 subscribers on YouTube. He’s now encouraging FFA chapters and other students to share their restored tractor stories by sending videos and pictures to him by e-mail or on Facebook or Twitter.
“I was a very quiet kid in high school; painfully shy,” Peterson says. “Recognition for hard earned accomplishments was important. It helped boost my confidence, helped bring me out of my shell. Slowly, it mattered.”
Peterson says those moments helped shape who he is today, and he wants the same opportunity for today’s students, despite COVID.
“I feel for kids now whose hard work just went....poof, through absolutely no fault of their own,” he says. “The platforms were just gone, vanished. They won't come back. We all understand why and the vital importance of what we're collectively doing to best deal with pandemic.”
Although he understands the challenges COVID-19 is bringing to summer events, his heart hurts for the kids.
“They are our future,” Peterson says. “If I can honor them on our Machinery Pete platforms I've built over the years, it’s an honor to do so. I hope to bring a smile to the faces of these young folks and their families and friends.”
Peterson says it’s not just about bringing smiles to the faces of those students who put in the work and effort to restore the equipment. He also hopes these stories spark positivity through readers and viewers.
“I think we all need more ‘good news’ these days,” he says. “In my book, seeing the handiwork of our talented young FFA students on their tractor restoration projects and hearing their stories on their tractors and the hard work and planning that went into it,equals goodness to the 9th degree."
It doesn’t stop there. Machinery Pete is also on the frontlines of helping farmers still get valuable information and education through this pandemic. He’s partnering with Farm Journal for the Farm Journal Field Days this August 25-27, which includes a deep dive into machinery in the “Machinery Pete Pavilion.”
In addition to the three days of virtual learning, Farm Journal is partnering with 4-H to showcase the hard work and effort 4-H’ers put into their projects this year through a #FarmOn Benefit concert. The concert will feature country music stars like Lee Brice and Justin Moore as a way to highlight the work and passion youth continue to put into their projects and communities.
The exciting #FJFieldDays agenda, which includes the “Machinery Pete Pavilion” and the #FarmOn Benefit Concert, is designed to incorporate all the elements important to you.