Our Oct. 5 meeting in Rippey: Remembering “Agri-rama” and national plowing matches

RIPPEY, Iowa, Sept. 26, 2018 — In the fall of 1966, Greene County hosted a 2-day “Agri-rama U.S.A.” showcasing the newest and best equipment available for farming, as well as enhancements for rural life — and more than 150,000 people attended! There were also plowing competitions, which from the late 1940s to the early 1980s were very popular across the U.S. Farm Belt as well as in other nations where agriculture was big.

Three Rippey-area natives — Roger Norgren, Robert Huber and Steve King — were involved in those events with their families, and they’ll tell their stories when the Greene County Historical Society meets on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Rippey United Methodist Church. Retired journalist Chuck Offenburger, a member of the historical society’s board of directors, will moderate the discussion.

People are welcome to bring photos and memorabilia from those events.

These three will share stories of Greene County’s colorful agricultural heritage when the county’s historical society meets Friday, Oct. 5, in Rippey. Left to right, they are Robert Huber, now of Cedar Falls; Roger Norgren, of Rippey, and Steve King, of Ogden. As Rippey-area farm boys, all were around “Agri-rama U.S.A.,” a huge farm show and plowing competition which, on two days in the fall of 1966, attracted more than 150,000 people to a special exhibition grounds east of Jefferson. Norgren and King went on to become national plowing champions, as did Huber’s father, Lawrence Huber. All three champions at one time or another used this very plow they’re standing with, which the historical society displays at the Greene County Fairgrounds.

Norgren, King and Huber were all introduced to Agri-rama U.S.A. and competitive plowing by Huber’s father, the late Lawrence Huber, who farmed three miles west of Rippey, in the area of Squirrel Hollow Park.

Agri-rama was a promotion by Greene County agricultural and development leaders. It was much like today’s huge Farm Progress Shows, with major displays by ag business companies as well as the plowing competitions and other farming demonstrations. There was live entertainment, even a fashion show, and a visit by U.S. Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey. The event was held on 1,100 acres of land just east of Jefferson, around and across the highway from the Jefferson Municipal Airport, and there was so much airplane and helicopter traffic that the Federal Aviation Administration built a temporary control tower on top of one of the hangars.

The weather was nearly perfect both early-September days of Agri-rama, and the largest crowds ever assembled in Greene County turned out – estimates ranged up to a total of 182,000.

“Those were pretty progressive local leaders who got behind that,” said Robert Huber. “They put together quite a show!”

Lawrence Huber, Norgren and King – all farmers for much or all of their careers – each won a national plowing championship over the decades. Robert Huber, who became a teacher and then guidance counselor in Cedar Falls, didn’t devote as much time or attention to participating in the sport but has always been a fan. Lawrence Huber died in 2012. Today, Norgren still lives and farms near Rippey, King lives near Ogden and is a trucker, and Robert Huber is retired in Cedar Falls.

Another national champion, Dallas Bowman, grew up in the southwest part of Greene County but wound up competing after he was farming in the Adel area.

For the Oct. 5 historical society event, there will be an $8 lunch at the church at 12 noon, with RSVPs for members due with their community contacts by midday Wednesday, Oct. 3. Members of the public who want to eat lunch for $10 should phone vice-president Nancy Hanaman at (515) 436-7684. The 1 p.m. program at the church is free and all are invited.

U of I Women’s Archives doing 6-on-6 girls’ basketball presentation Sept. 15 in Jefferson

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Sept. 10, 2018 — Small towns across Iowa came to a halt each winter to take in the mesmerizing game of high school girls’ six-on-six basketball.

It was a sport that captivated thousands and sent scores sky-rocketing over the century mark, creating legends in the smallest of communities.

The University of Iowa Women’s Archives is celebrating the impact of six-on-six basketball in Iowa with a presentation at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s “Hometown Teams” exhibit now being displayed at the Greene County Historical Museum in Jefferson.

Iowa Women’s Archives curator Karen Mason and U of I American studies lecturer Jennifer Sterling, who have spent hundreds of hours researching and interviewing former players, will discuss the marvelous history of the sport and its wide-ranging reach across the entire country through “Six-on-six Girls’ Basketball in Iowa: Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives and Beyond.”

A “Remembering six-on-six” display, prepared by the U of I, is part of the “Hometown Teams” exhibit.

Part of the “Hometown Teams” exhibit at the museum in Jefferson.

Mason and Sterling will begin speaking at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Thomas Jefferson Gardens Welcome Center. Afterward, there will be a chance for locals to share their stories and memorabilia with the researchers. The presenters will scan historical items that people bring on Saturday, for inclusion in their archives, and people can then keep their precious memorabilia.

The “Hometown Teams” exhibit has also visited Mount Vernon, Ottumwa and Guthrie Center. It will travel to Ames and Conrad following its stay in Jefferson.

The operating hours for the exhibit at the museum here, through Sept. 23, are Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For complete details about this program, please contact Peg Raney at Jefferson Matters: Main Street’s office at 110 W. Lincoln Way, call (515) 385-3585 or email director@jeffersonmatters.org.

Part of the six-on-six girls basketball display in the “Hometown Teams” exhibit.

 

Greene County’s “pioneer cemeteries” and the people who are preserving them

CHURDAN, Iowa, Sept. 8, 2018 — Ada Ross, the secretary of the Greene County Pioneer Cemetery Commission, told stories about the 10 “pioneer cemeteries” in the county when the Greene County Historical Society met Friday, Sept. 7, at historic and beautiful St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Cedar Township west of here.

Those 10 cemeteries are the burial sites of many of the county’s earliest settlers. Although most of them are no longer active cemeteries – in other words, there haven’t been any burials for years – they are still overseen and preserved by the 6-member Greene County Pioneer Cemetery Commission. Those commissioners are appointed by the county’s board of supervisors.

Ross, of rural Jefferson, has been a member of that commission about 10 years, and is now its secretary. Its new president is Peg Semke, also of rural Jefferson.

Ada Ross speaking from the pulpit at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Cedar, located west of Churdan.

The commission was organized in the year 2000, with Valerie Heater Ogren, the county’s longtime champion of local history and genealogy, taking the lead.

“What Valerie saw back then was that many of these oldest cemeteries were in deplorable condition,” said Ross. “The worst was probably Old Franklin in the southeast part of the county. There were cows grazing in it, their residue was in the grass, stones had been knocked over, trees and brush had grown up. It was a mess.”

Ogren told the supervisors back then that the pioneer cemeteries needed “advocates for clean-up and protection,” Ross said. The commission fills that role.
Ada Ross had people asking her questions for 30 minutes after her presentation to the historical society.

“St. Patrick’s, Cedar,” is no longer an active parish in the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, but funerals and a St. Patrick’s Day mass are still held there. The church has been renovated, improved and is now maintained by a committee of volunteers, who’ve made it a unique historic site in the area.

Ada Ross holding a county map which has the locations of the pioneer cemeteries marked in yellow.

A close-up of the map showing the locations of the pioneer cemeteries in Greene County — they’re marked in yellow.

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