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Ride on: group of retired farmers roll into town

NORTH LIBERTY– When this group of retirees gathers for lunch, it’s an all day thing.
After all, it takes awhile to get anywhere on a vintage farm tractor.
A group of between six and nine retired farmers, most hailing from around the Fairfax, Norway and Ely area, get together in the mornings for coffee and a daily chat. Sometime in 2003 or 2004, Gordon Ruegsegger suggested he and his buddies also do lunch– all driving their tractors that date back to the 1950s and 60s.
Now, the group takes day trips once or twice each month during the summers, driving their tractor convoy to eateries around Eastern Iowa.
“We’ve been to Youngville, Sutliff, Ely, Shueyville…today we went to Culvers,” said Mick Heintz of Fairfax. Dessert was slated for Isaac’s Creamery. “That’s how we ended up in North Liberty.”
Last Thursdsay, while Heintz waited for everyone to finish their ice cream, he minded the nine vintage tractors parked along Front Street. Heintz scrutinized his Global Satellite Positioning system, a bit of a modern twist on his old red and white FarmAll.
“We’ve gone 42.9 miles so far today,” he said, noting they were on their way back home. Heintz’s wife and another spouse followed behind in a pick-up truck after detouring on a short shopping trip to Kalona.
“This lunch trip, it’s kind of a guy thing,” Heintz added as the nine old tractors intermittently sputtered back to life to make a slow journey home. “The hardest part is just figuring out where to go next.”