Tractor Tram Town | Iowa State Fair 2012


IT ALMOST LOOKS LIKE A SCENE
RIGHT OUT OF SCI-FI ZOMBIE THRILLER…
DESERTED STREETS, VACANT PLAYGROUNDS,
NOT A PERSON IN SIGHT. BUT UNLIKE THE MOVIES,
BRAIN-SUCKING ALIENS HAVEN’T TAKEN OVER A TOWN.
THIS ABANDONMENT IS ONLY TEMPORARY.
FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS EVERY YEAR, NEARLY EVERYONE IN TOWN HAS
TREKKED 100 MILES NORTHEAST TO THE IOWA STATE FAIR CAMPGROUNDS.
WE CALL IT THE CLEARFIELD HILL. WHEN PEOPLE SAY WHERE ARE YOU
LOCATED, WE’LL SAY GO TO THE HILL, THE BIG TREE , BY THE SLAB
AND YOU’LL FIND US. IT’S NOT JUST THE FUN AND GAMES
THAT BRING PEOPLE HERE. IN FACT, THESE TOWNSPEOPLE ARE
VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME TO HELP FROM THE STATE FAIR’S SHUTTLE
SERVICE. IN THE EARLY 1960S, THE MEMBERS
OF THE CLEARFIELD LIONS CLUB APPROACH THE IOWA STATE FAIR
BOARD AFTER THEY NOTICED THAT MANY OF THE CAMPERS WERE NOT
MAKING THE HIKE DOWN THE HILL TO GO TO THE FAIR.
THE BOARD AGREED THAT PERHAPS A SHUTTLE SERVICE WOULD BE AN
ASSET TO THE CAMPERS AND TO THE FAIR.
SO IN 1964 THE LIONS CLUB AGREED TO FURNISH A CAMPGROUND SHUTTLE
SERVICE. AND IN RETURN WERE ALLOWED TO
STAY ON THE CAMPGROUNDS FREE OF CHARGE.
THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE GO UP THERE, AND THIS MIGHT BE THEIR
ONLY VACATION THEY HAVE FOR THE WHOLE YEAR.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO IT AND WE HAVE A GREAT TIME.
LOT OF WORK BUT A GOOD TIME. THE CLEARFIELD LIONS CLUB
STARTED IN 1953 WITH 38 MEMBERS. IT HAS NOW GROWN TO BE THE
LARGEST LIONS CLUB IN THE STATE OF IOWA, BOASTING 155 MEMBERS.
JUST ABOUT ALL OF THEM GO TO THE FAIR WITH THEIR FAMILIES.
THE FAIR, THEY BRING THEIR CAMPERS.
WE PARK THEM IN KIND OF LIKE A PUZZLE.
EVERYONE GETS IN. WE MAKE SURE EVERYONE GETS IN.
VERY SELDOM — I DON’T THINK WE’VE EVER TURNED ANY CAMPER
AWAY. SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T ROLL YOUR
WINDOW OUT BECAUSE YOU’RE SO CLOSE TO YOUR NEIGHBOR.
IT’S A GOOD THING YOU LIKE YOU NEIGHBOR BECAUSE IT’S ONE BIG
FAMILY OUT THERE. THEY STARTED OUT RUNNING JUST
FOUR TRACTORS, BUT HAS SINCE GROWN TO RUNNING EIGHT BUSES
FULL TIME FROM EIGHT IN THE MORNING UNTIL MIDNIGHT EVERY DAY
DURING THE STATE FAIR. JOHN DEERE SUPPLIES THE LIONS
CLUB WITH THE TRACTORS, BUT THEY TAKE CARE OF MAINTAINING THE
BUSES THEMSELVES. THE COMMUNITY GETS TOGETHER
EVERY JULY TO SPRUCE UP THE BUSES, ADDING A TOUCH OF PAINT
WHERE NECESSARY, FIXING A SAGGING SIGN, OR MENDING A
BROKEN BOARD. AT THE CAMPSITE, VOLUNTEERS SIGN
UP FOR TWO-HOUR SHIFTS. SOME DRIVE THE TRACTOR WHILE
OTHERS HELP LOAD AND UNLOAD PASSENGERS.
THE TWENTY-MINUTE SHUTTLE RIDE STOPS SEVERAL TIMES THROUGHOUT
THE CAMPGROUNDS UNTIL ARRIVING AT THE DESIGNATED DROP-OFF AREA
JUST BELOW PIONEER HALL. WHILE YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORK
WHILE YOU’RE AT THE CAMPGROUND, YOU WON’T HEAR THE PEOPLE FROM
CLEARFIELD COMPLAINING. THEY JUST ENJOY THE SATISFACTION
OF HELPING OTHER PEOPLE. I THINK THAT’S ONE OF THE
REASONS WE HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE STILL GOING IS SOMEHOW OR OTHER
RIGHT OR WRONG, WE FEEL AS IF WE’RE PART OF SOMETHING BIG OUT
THERE, YOU KNOW.

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