For a guy who says he “bleeds John Deere green,” Erik Hans of Lebanon was showing a lot of pride in a yellowish-orange 1955 Minneapolis Moline tractor Wednesday at the 18th annual Willamette Valley Ag Expo, which continues through today at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.

Hans, who has been a sales rep at Pape’ in Tangent for 11 years, has good reason to be proud of the 63-year-old diesel tractor. It belonged to his grandfather Ed Baggenstos and was used on a potato farm near Sherwood that has been in the family since 1919.

“It took me about two years to fix up,” Hans said of the 8,000-pound project. “I did everything except shoot the paint. It had been kept in a shed, but it needed to be ‘dolled up.’”

Hans enjoys attending the Ag Expo because he gets to see lots of new and old farm equipment.

“I really enjoy the Dine Around dinner, too,” he said. “My friend barbecues the lamb for it.”

FFA member Dalton Tenbusch, 18, a senior at Central Linn High School, was showing off the tractor Hans should have had — a 1949 John Deere M that he fixed up with his grandfather, Wayne Grant of Lebanon.

“I bought it about five years ago with its original cycle bar mower and plow for about $1,300 from a man from Scio,” Tenbusch said. “We cleaned up the carburetor and got it running right away. We had to add a new battery and do some work on the fuel float. Then we had it painted.”

Tenbusch said the 19-horsepower project was extra special since he got to work on it with his grandfather.

“He’s fun to work with and he listens,” his grandfather said.

Tenbusch and his grandfather are members of the Oregon Vintage Machinery Museum in Brooks.

Tenbusch had planned to show off two John Deere tractors at the Expo, but in August, while driving a John Deere Model A to a neighbor’s wedding, he lost a rear tire and slid down a deep ditch.

He wasn’t injured, but the tractor suffered significant damage including a broken steering column, exhaust stack and sheet metal.

“I’m going to buy a parts tractor to put it back together,” Tenbusch said.

He's attended the Ag Expo since he was a child. He plans to study agriculture or animal science after graduating from high school next spring.

“This show keeps growing and growing,” Tenbusch said. “I enjoy the old equipment, but it’s also fun to see all of the latest in ag technology.”

That’s why Jered Rediger of Harrisburg, and Jake Clouston and Shane Ward, both of Junction City, were “kicking tires” Wednesday morning.

“I am looking for good deals,” Rediger said. “We bale straw for exporty and raise cattle, so it’s fun to see the latest equipment.”’

Ward said this was his first time at the Expo and since he works for Lochmead Farms, he was doing dual duty — working the show and enjoying it.

Wednesday was FFA day at the Expo and hundreds of young people from FFA chapters around the state were helping at the show and taking in the buildings filled with machinery and equipment.

Among them were Harrisburg FFA freshmen Suki Woodruff, 14, Trey Crabb, 15, Tristen Bishop, 14, and Maggie Schmaal, 14.

“We are learning a lot, plus we are on a scavenger hunt,” Maggie said. “We have to visit the vendor booths and talk to people. We have to find the Pape’ booth, locate the largest baler at the Expo and learn about safety gear. It’s fun.”

One of the area’s newest public servants, Shelly Boshart Davis, elected last week to House District 15, wasat the show.

“We’ve had a booth at the Expo for at least 10 years,” Boshart Davis said. “For us, it’s an opportunity to talk with the 40 growers we work with when they aren’t busy.

Boshart Davis said that although she won’t be sworn into office until January, she planned to attend an orientation session at the Capitol on Thursday.

Former Sheriff Bruce Riley also attended the event, and said he was just enjoying visiting with old friends and finding retirement, “good.”

The Expo attracts both farmers and former farmers like Bruno Weiss of Independence.

“I used to raise livestock, hay and horses,” the 82-year-old Weiss said. “I come with my friends every year.”

The Expo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

Admission is $4 and includes a $2 coupon for lunch. Parking is free.

In addition 250,000 square feet of exhibits, guests can complete several CORE classes including pesticide and CPR training.

The Expo is sponsored by the Willamette Valley Ag Association and managed by Ingalls & Associates. Proceeds are used to fund scholarships for area students who focusing on ag-oriented careers.

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.