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Blast from the past: classic combine leads harvest demonstrations at Husker Harvest Days

Jeff Ewoldt of Grand Island leads the harvest demos at Husker Harvest Days at the 40th annual event (NTV News)

The Bee Gees were Stayin’ Alive and moviegoers lined up to see a farm kid named Luke Skywalker save the galaxy, when Husker Harvest Days made its debut.

40 years later, some equipment of that era hasn’t been forgotten

“There’s no GPS, no yield monitor, but we do have air conditioning,” Jeff Ewoldt said.

Getting behind the wheel with this Grand Island farmer is a trip through time. Jeff picks corn and beans with an International 1460, built in 1978. In those days, combines cost in the tens of thousands. Harvesters these days can cost a half-million dollars, and pick twice as many rows as Jeff’s IH combine.

“Way bigger machines, but we use it every year and it gets the job done for us,” Ewoldt said.

Jeff and his dad Bryce have been using it since 1994.

And while it turns heads at Husker Harvest Days, where it has been leading the combine demonstrations, it didn’t look pretty when they found it.

Jeff said, “It sat for two years in the field and was not in good shape at all, we had to totally disassemble it. It was full of corn that had been there for two years, built it from the ground up.”

They replaced about everything but the cab, and cleaned up critters where corn should be flowing.

“The rats were as big as cats, and that's no joke,” Jeff said with a laugh.

With the 40th anniversary of Husker Harvest Days, a board member for the show was looking for machines like those from the early days.

Tyson Schimmer coordinates the harvest demos, and didn’t have to look far to find an example of a late ‘70s machine. He farms just down the road from the Ewoldts.

“He said ‘we want to do live demos with 40-year-old equipment’, and I told him yeah, we can do it,” Ewoldt recalls of his conversation with Schimmer.

It doesn’t have all the features new combines have, but on the plus side -- Jeff says they know it inside and out.

“Any problem we do have, we know how to fix it by now anyway.”

They have no plans to replace it, and after the “world’s fair of irrigated agriculture”, it’ll be back to work picking corn and soybeans on the Ewoldt’s farm just a few minutes away from Husker Harvest Days.

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