Concordia, Kan., sees large crowd for world-record setting, steam engine event
September 23, 2016
The Guinness Book of World Records never included a category for steam engines plowing through a field. That changed Sept. 10.
About 2,500 people from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Colorado gathered in Concordia, Kan., to watch nine shiny, restored steam engines line up and plow across a field for at least five minutes.
"As far as Guinness is concerned, (we had to go) five minutes, all engines plowing. We set the record, and that was a pretty good deal," said Kurt Kocher, co-organizer with Brad Smith and Cloud County Tourism. Kocher farms wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans and has a cow calf operation in southern Cloud County. Smith and his father operate an industrial demolition business and a scrap yard in Scottsville, Kan.
Kocher and Smith said they were happily surprised at the turnout after rain delayed the event. The record was supposed to be set two weeks earlier.
“As far as Guinness is concerned, (we had to go) five minutes, all engines plowing. We set the record, and that was a pretty good deal.” - Kurt Kocher, co-organizer
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"We had great volunteers who helped so much," Smith said. "We hope to do it again as a free event again for the community by securing some sponsors next year."
Smith said it was also good to see so many people travel from far away to see the event. Many people told him how much they enjoyed it.
"I've been interested in seeing steam engines since I was a kid," said Rex Ellsworth, a heavy equipment operator from Concordia who went to see the engines. Ellsworth enjoyed visiting with friends Larry Heald of Concordia and Doug Kroeger of Miltonvale, Kan., as the three sat atop a disc implement with many others, as they waited for the Guinness project to begin.
David Jowett of Odessa, Mo., was one of the steam engine owners. He hauled his 1914, 16-horsepower Frick steam engine to Kansas for the event.
"When I was 14, my dad bought a 50-horsepower Case engine, and now — 40 years later — my son and I have seven steam engines," Jowett said.
After getting his R-Stamp certification, Jowett builds boilers and repairs and restores steam engines.
Even after the world record was officially set, the engines still changed the world for some. Several attendees helped a 40-year-old man from Platte City, Mo., strap his wheelchair onto a plow platform so he could ride through the field, Smith said.
"The gentleman cried, and said it was the greatest thing he'd ever done," he said.
Kocher said the man's family told him they hadn't seen him smile like that in years.
"It was a great day," Kocher said. "There was so much interest in our past. We're thrilled the crowd had a great time."