The inaugural benefit tractor cruise was held on Saturday, August 29, 2009 and what a wonderful beginning it was for a much anticipated annual fundraiser! The idea for the Tractor Cruise evolved out of Lynn Pollesch and Jon Heatley's passion for collecting classic tractors, combined with their desire to raise funds for worthy causes. Their enthusiasm has been contagious, and many others have jumped on the bandwagon in support of their efforts.
In 2009, 14 drivers participated in the tractor cruise. Through entry fees and pledges collected, the cruis was able to donate $4,000 to five area charities, including the Ripon Community Thrift Store and Food Pantry, The Ripon Area Food Pantry, the Green Lake County Food Pantry, the Ripon Area School District student basic needs fund and the Green Lake Public Schools student basic needs fund.
Since 2010, the tractor cruise has started and ended at the Jon and Diane Heatley farm. Their location offers a beautiful barn and display area for the tractors, with plenty of parking at nearby R&R Wash Materials. Also in 2010, the board of directors partnered with the Ripon FFA Alumni, which is very supportive of the event. The FFA Alumni donated the use of their tables and chairs for the chicken barbecue, and also served the dinner to more than 200 guests.
To date, $239,555 has been raised and donated to food pantries and public school basic needs funds in Ripon, Rosendale, Brandon, Green Lake, Berlin, Markesan, and Princeton.
Lynn Pollesch, President/Sponsorship
Alexis Pollesch, Vice President/Sponsorship
Lee Baird, Treasurer/Food & Site
Andy Gallun, Secretary/Outside Activities
Dave Wilke, Director/Route
Robert "Woody" Kuiper, Director/Advertising
Bart Schepp, Director/Food & Site
Phil Priebe, Director/Outside Activities
Nelson Hinz, Director/Route