Combine Rides Like "Air Conditioned Monster Trucks"
It's a monster truck with air conditioning and you can ride them free at the Nebraska State Fair.
Grand Island is not only home to the fair, but the Case New Holland plant building giant combines used the world over.
"It's a neat experience to see little kids that have not been in a combine or around one very often," plant manager Bill Baasch explained.
The giant harvesters are produced in red under the Case IH name, and different models are available as yellow New Holland machines.
Baasch said, "They're a very large piece of equipment to get inside and honk horn. It's a fun experience."
The plant has expanded several times in recent years, producing dozens of combines a week. So it's a source of pride for plant employees to show off their work at the state fair.
Baasch said, "Our employees do a great job at the plant, put in a lot of hours year round – lot of product flowing through the plant. Great experience to get outside the plant and interact with the community to show off the product and pride in things they build."
When the fair was moving to Grand Island, company officials brainstormed ways to be involved. They talked with Fonner Park to see if they could drive the big farm machines on the track.
They didn't realize how popular the free attraction would be, as folks line up for their chance to climb inside a vehicle that costs more than many homes do.
Bill Baasch, the plant manager, said employees volunteer to staff the combine rides at the fair.
He said, "Being able to host the State Fair in Grand Island is a great experience for manufacturing plant on the other side of town.
Each year they've given rides to more than 7,000 people, and often have long lines.
Baasch said, "It's been a great event to get people in to see the product, definitely get guests from young to old and get to see new features and advancements that go into the combine every year – neat experience for all ages of guests."
The combine rides are in the fair's East Entertainment Area on the horse track at Fonner Park. Guests each receive a token to commemorate the experience. Workers at the plant laser cut small metal pieces, this year in the shape of a Husker 'N".