Area tractor cruse returns this month

Tractors cruse the local countryside during a previous year's benefit.

The third-annual Ripon/Green Lake Benefit Tractor Cruise will be held Saturday, Aug. 27.

The cruise will begin at the Jon Heatley farm, 1133 Dartford Road, Ripon, with registration from 8 to 9 a.m., departing at 9 a.m., making a mid-day stop for lunch at the Markesan Agriculture Museum, and ending at the Heatley farm at 3:30 p.m.

Tractors will be on display at the farm, while participants and spectators enjoy a chicken barbecue hosted by the Ripon FFA Alumni.

The goal of the tractor cruise is to help fund local food pantries and public schools student special needs funds, which provide necessities for children whose families cannot otherwise afford them, such as school lunches, eye glasses and exams, medications, transportation to and from school, seasonally appropriate clothing, school supplies, college applications, college testing fees, and unique special education student needs.

The $45 entry fee, along with gathered pledges, will help care for area residents who are experiencing hardship in these tough economic times.

Participants may choose to drive one of two routes: a long, 52-mile route, for tractors capable of traveling at 10.5 miles per hour, and a short, 32-mile route, for tractors capable of traveling at 6.5 miles per hour.

Those who do not wish to drive a tractor but would like to fully experience the cruise may ride in a hay wagon along the long route. Wagon riders must remit the application along with a $30 entry fee, which includes lunch and dinner.

In 2009, organizers Lynn Pollesch and Jon Heatley recruited 14 drivers for the inaugural event, which allowed the Ripon/Green Lake Benefit Tractor Cruise to distribute $4,000 to food pantries and school special needs funds in Ripon and Green Lake.

In 2010, cruise participation increased to 28 drivers and $8,000 donated to those same charities. The Ripon/Green Lake Tractor Cruise, Inc. received a charitable 501c3 designation in 2011, making all donations tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

The goal for 2011 is to increase participation to more than 50 drivers and to raise at least $16,000. Tractor cruise organizers would like to expand the list of recipients in 2011 to include food pantries and school special needs funds in Berlin and Markesan, as well as Ripon and Green Lake.

The entry fee includes lunch and dinner and an annual membership to the Ripon/Green Lake Benefit Tractor Cruise Club. Membership includes liability insurance for the tractor cruise and entitles participants to vote at board meetings and help decide how funds are allocated. The board strives to return funds raised to the communities from which the original donations came.

Tickets for the chicken barbecue, served from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Jon Heatley Farm, are $9 each, which includes a half chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, roll and beverage. Tickets may be purchased at the event.

Applications, pledge forms and much more information about the third annual Ripon/Green Lake Benefit Tractor Cruise may be found on the web site: www.ripongreenlaketractorcruise.com or by calling Lynn Pollesch, club president, at 920-299-0926.

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