Many residents of the Oskaloosa Care Center in southern Iowa used to be farmers. They’re reminded of their past by the cornfield next to the nursing home — and, once a year, by a parade of antique tractors.

Originating at the Southern Iowa Fair, the parade passes by five nursing homes: Oskaloosa Care Center, Crystal Heights, Maple Ridge, White Oak Estates and the Northern Mahaska Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. 

“Most of the people in the nursing homes have been farmers, so they can say, ‘Look, there’s a tractor I farmed with,’” says parade mastermind Rick Flander (pictured), president of The Tractor Guys, a group of tractor enthusiasts.

 “A lot of residents know the tractor drivers, so the drivers were hollering, ‘Hey John, how’s it going?’ To our fellas who used to be farmers, that’s a big deal,” says Amy Spiker, activity director at the 69-bed Oskaloosa Care Center.

Dozens of residents sat outside, in the shade of the facility’s canopy, to watch the third annual parade on July 18, Spiker says. There were about 25 tractors, with model years ranging from 1937 to 1960. Makes included John Deere, Ferguson, Farmall, Minneapolis and International. 

Flander says it’s a great afternoon both for the residents and the drivers: “You never see bigger smiles than on that tractor ride.”