GERING — The 23rd annual Harvest Festival at Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering will showcase sugar beets and their harvest.

The event kicks off Saturday at 9 a.m. with the potato patch, wagon rides, peddle cars and barrel train. At 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., hand- and horse-drawn as well as tractor harvest demonstrations will begin. The Green Valley Homesteaders will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon. At 1 p.m. is a horse, tractor and equipment parade.

Sunday will follow a similar schedule, however, a church service with Pastor Tim Hebbert at 8:30 a.m. will begin the day and the Torrington Fiddlers will play from 10 a.m. to noon.

Volunteer Dick Kuxhausen said the harvest demonstration will be a full display of harvests from days gone by complete with a narrator and opportunities for spectators to try their hand at topping the beets.

“We use all period equipment,” he said. “We will do horse pulling, tractor pulling where we actually pull the beets, then they’ll be picked up and stacked. Then there will be a furrow put down the center of the stacks, and we will top by hand and load them either with a shovel or an old beet fork on a wagon pulled by horses.”

After the horse-drawn demonstration, the next generation will take over with 1940s and 1950s equipment, including a 54A John Deere, an International M Series and an Allis Chalmers equipped with a Marbeet digger.

One of the machines is a 1944 M International with a 1952 beet topper.

“We completely disassembled that, rebuilt the engine,” Kuxhausen said. “We knocked a big hole in the transmission when we had it painted, so we had to take it apart and start over. But the crew that we’ve got here worked on this and we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of hours in it. But it looks like it came off the showroom floor, so we’re pretty proud of that one.”

The Allis Chalmers, on the other hand, hasn’t been restored and “looks pretty much like it did when we got it, except that now it runs,” Kuxhausen said.

Admission to the Harvest Festival is $5 per person. Through sponsorship from Inland Truck Parts, Horizon West Inc., Western Nebraska Community College, B & C Steel, Frank Implement Co., and Frank Parts Co., admission will include access to the museum’s galleries as well as the outdoor events.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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