Who would ever guess that there would be red finds while at Gathering of the Green, the ultimate John Deere event in Davenport, Iowa?
At this wonderful event that celebrates everything John Deere green and yellow one of my favorite aspects of the event is that they include tours. This year one of those tours was of Jon Kinzenbaw’s private collection of tractors and of the Kinze Innovation Center and Kinzie Manufacturing Plant. Years ago I had the distinct honor of interviewing Jon Kinzenbaw for the then Belt Pulley magazine and seeing the collection.
The collection has grown dramatically since that time. It has more tractors, brands and buildings. This tour was led by Gary Roberts rather than Mr. Kinzenbaw who Gary said was down in Florida. While Mr. Kinzenbaw was soaking up the sun, our two buses of John Deere enthusiasts stormed his collections oohing and ahhing over his pristine collection that much to the green lovers surprise also included several John Deere green tractors as well although there is no doubt that Farmall red is the favorite brand.
To get a tour these days is a special thing. Gary shared that two tours are usually offered a year, once in June and once in the fall. There is a two-year wait list so I was thrilled that we were able to sign up for this one. I admit is was fun walking around with John Deere guys watching them knee-deep in Farmall Red.
We toured a room filled with Farmall H’s from all years and saw IH tractors stacked two to three layers high. These were neatly stacked by forklifts. My favorite John Deere sighting was a rare 4020 cutaway that I am sure there is a neat story to if I can dig it out! Besides IH tractors, there were also were rare other brands along with cool trucks and implements and one fun creation. a Farmall C with bicycle seats and pedals for eight added. This conversation piece makes its way to picnics and other events. Check out Red Power for a future article on the Kinze tours!
We saw where Kinze ideas originate and I was struck when one gentleman said, “He’s doing the right thing. God gave him this brain and he is sharing it with the world.”
After our tour, we loaded up on the buses and it almost took a cattle prod to get some of the gentlemen to move on! We were served an amazing lunch at the Kinze Innovation Center and while sitting dining on an extraordinary lunch we got talking to the gentleman at our table and found out that Joe Neville would be taking us around. Joe I found out, is an IH enthusiast and he and his daughter started Harvester Heritage a non-profit to gather stories of former IH employees. I interviewed Joe on the spot for a future Red Power article and called him to look the article over since the interview was so rushed. When I spoke to him I said, “It is quite amazing to find so many red stories on a green trip.”
Joe said back to me, “You will be amazed how many red stories there are around you everyday.”
I find innovative people in all walks of life. You never know who you are talking to until you get past hello! Jon Kinzenbaw is a genius that changed agricultural manufacturing. Joe Nelville and his daughter and the IHC collectors are changing history by preserving it, one story at a time, creating IH memories as former employees tell their stories. I am honored to get a chance to write about those that make the world we live in a better place whether it be a red or green tractor, a barn, or a place to see.