Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 10 April 2012 14:53
When the expected 20,000 to 25,000 people converge on the Kansas State Fairground in Hutchinson for the 44th Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale Friday and Saturday, they can find several nicely restored farm tractors and family cars.
The sale of those vehicles, like the sale of almost everything else at the two-day event, will raise money for the worldwide relief effort of Mennonite Central Committee.
The sale, a united effort of various Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish congregations, annually raises between $400,000 and $500,000 each year.
For Jerry Toews of Goessel, who serves as the relief sale’s chief mechanic, the restored tractors and cars are a highlight of the sale.
“Most of the vehicles we get have been owned by elderly people who have restored them some time ago, then put them in a barn and forgot about them,” he said.
One of his favorite donations this year is a 1953 John Deere Model B tractor from Lauren and Luetta Enns of rural Hillsboro. The last year for production of the Model B was 1953.
The Ennses also donated a Model H International tractor.
“The John Deere was always Lauren’s favorite,” Toews said. “He had Dennis Funk of Hillsboro do the body work and professional paint job when Lauren restored it many years ago. Dennis is known for his attention to fine detail and impeccable work.”
Toews said the Ennses both have been faithful volunteers with the relief sale for many years, but likely will have to miss it this year for health reasons.
“This shows the amazing dedication this generation has for the work of helping put on the Kansas MCC Sale,” Toews said about the couple.
Toews is excited about other donations as well.
“We really have some great and unusual items,” he said.
One of those is a 1948 Allis Chalmers Model C tractor donated by the estate of Robert Nickel, who grew up south of Lehigh and was an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad.
Toews also likes the 1948 Packard that originally was part of the antique car collection of Bernie Wray of Hutchinson.
“It was sold many years ago at Bernie’s estate sale and was purchased by a couple in Buhler,” Toews said. “It has been in storage many years.
“Packard was a luxury car with a big straight-8 engine,” he added. “Packards were considered fast and luxurious, providing a very smooth ride with lots of room inside to take the entire neighborhood. This car was restored with new paint and new original style interior.”
Another car donated to the sale is a green 1950 Chevy Delux that was sold at the Davis-Childs Motor Co. in Hutchinson to Herman Diener’s father, who was the pastor at Yoder Mennonite Church.
“When Herman’s father passed away, Herman got the car and completely restored it, sparing no expense,” Toews said. “Everything was replaced.”
Another vehicle on the selling block this weekend is a much more contemporary form of transportation: a 2006 Kawasaki four-wheeler that Don Schmidt of Greensburg donated.
“It’s in top shape,” Toews said. “If anyone wants any additional information on any of these vehicles, they are at my place until the sale. I have got all of them ready for the sale and can give honest opinions about their condition.”
Other, more familiar, items on the selling block this weekend include:
• authentic ethnic German and Swiss Mennonite food;
• more than 200 hand-made Mennonite quilts and related items;
• handmade furniture and toys;
• thousands of garden plants, seedlings and trees;
• a children’s auction and inflatables;
• a silent auction with a variety of unique items.
The sale opens at 4 p.m. Friday. It reopens at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and continues well into the afternoon. Admission to the sale is free and the public welcomed.