I like history more than most people. But even if you’re ho-hum on history, you might enjoy reading about the 1964 National Plowing Contest, held that year in Buffalo, N.D. The contest was a big deal, both in and out of agriculture, attracting more than 100,000 people, including Barry “Mr. Conservative” Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, and Hubert “HHH” Humphrey, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
In researching a story on the event, I had a chance to talk with Ramona Fraase, who, along with her late husband, served as the event’s host couple. Put yourself in their shoes: you have a family farm and 100,000 people are coming to visit? But Ramona had, and still has, a great attitude.
Photos of the event are on display this month at the Olde School, the renovated 1916 Buffalo High School. One of the photos, lent temporarily to me, shows a young man, back to the camera, who’s competing in the 1964 contest. The photo is labeled “Larry Hoffmann.” I wondered if that could be the same Larry Hoffmann, who’s still farming today in nearby Wheatland, N.D. So I asked the very efficient and helpful Liane Stout, who’s associated with the Olde School. Yes, she said, it’s the same man.
So I phoned and emailed Larry. He wasn’t immediately available. Probably at Big Iron, I thought. Big Iron is the annual three-day farm show in West Fargo, N.D., 30 miles east of Buffalo and Wheatland. Sure enough, I ran into Larry the next day at Big Iron. The Agweek booth was next to the North Dakota Corn Growers Association booth, and Larry, a member of the association’s board of directors, was helping to staff its booth. Yes, he’d received my phone and email messages, and we had a nice conversation about his memories of the 1964 event, held when he was a college sophomore.
Read the story, and see the photos, in the Sept. 15 issue of Agweek.