Calvin Bohnert Memorial Corn Picking Day


November 10, 2022

Isaac Koops, Downs, drove a John Deere M and pulled a one-row corn picker at the Calvin Bohnert Memorial Corn Picking Day held near Jewell on Saturday, Nov. 5. Koops got his love of old machinery from his grandfather, the late Calvin Bohnert. His brother and sister are riding in the corn wagon.

It is November and in Jewell County. That means Corn Picking Days!  The late Calvin Bohnert started the event six years ago. He and friends had talked about it for years but one day, Bohnert said, "I'm done talking about it. We're going to do it."  That was in 2016.

Each November since, the Bohnert farm west of Jewell has hosted Corn Picking Days. There would be corn to pick, machines to repair, memories to share – just good times with old machinery celebrating the "Good Old Days."

The 2022 event held on Saturday, was a one-day not the usual two-day affair.  But there was another difference, a big difference. The man with the smile and the passion (some say "obsession") for old machinery, Calvin Bohnert, was not there. 

When Bohnert died in September, his friends, Robin Edmonds, Berryton, Kan., Dan Emmot, Beloit, and JR Vandergiesen, Smith Center, joined together to organize the Calvin Bohnert Memorial Corn Picking Day.  This was their way to honor their friend and his passions about corn and old machinery.

Last Saturday, 70 to 80 people enjoyed camaraderie, told stories of how it "used to be done" and honored one of Jewell County's own, Calvin Bohnert. They came to watch, pick corn, drive tractors, ride in trailers and watch a 1950s corn sheller in action. The event began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The 70-some year-old Minneapolis Moline sheller was brought to the event by Kurt Kocher, Glasco. Kocher hasn't owned the machine for long but on Saturday it was "working" and he was "tickled to death." 

The sheller was not the only 1950s machine at Corn Picking Day. Bohnert owned an early 1950s 210 Case Corn Picker and Silage Cutter. The machine is a rarity. They were only built for a few years and many of those that were made were junked.

Junked?  Yes, a machine to both pick corn and cut silage just isn't practical. If the corn was dry enough to pick, the silage was way too dry. If the silage had good moisture, the corn was way too wet. A great addition to a machinery collection but not for the realities of agriculture now, or in the 1950s.

Pulling the 210 Case was, appropriately, a Case tractor. The tractor, owned by Vaugh Powell, Riley, Kan., came to the 2022 event because of a promise. Powell attended the 2021 Corn Picking Days and promised Calvin Bohnert, he would attend the next one and the 210 Case would be pulled by a Case tractor. The promise was kept and the two Case machines picked wagons of corn and cut some silage too.

One of the first in the field on Saturday morning was Roger Vinsonhaler of Smith Center.  He was driving a 50 John Deere tractor and pulling a 101 John Deere Corn Picker. The tractor was owned by JR Vandergiesen (Smith Center) and the corn picker was one of several owned by Bohnert.

Not everyone at Corn Picking Day could remember the "good old days."  There were a couple of young men driving tractors and picking corn. Fourteen-year-old Isaac Koops, Downs, has been at several Corn Picking Days. He got his love of old machinery from his grandfather, Calvin Bohnert. 

This year, Koops was driving an M John Deer and pulling a John Deere picker. His brother and sister were going along for the ride in the corn wagon. Koops has been picking corn since at least 2019.

Another young man, 15-year-old, Peter Smith of Scottsville, was also picking corn. He liked picking corn at the 2019 Corn Picking Days so much he bought his own tractor, a 1949 SC Case. This year he and his tractor picked corn with a Dearborn picker. At various times during the day, he also had wagon riders, Carissa and Jacob Smith, Scottsville, Shane Strathman, Beloit, and Jacob Cockroft, Esbon.

Coming from farthest away was Dusty Covault from Tucumcari, New Mexico. Covault is a friend of organizer, JR Vandergiesen, and has attended many a Corn Picking Day and Plow Day. Covault was in the field in the morning but also was found helping unload the wagons as they came in.

Dave Moser, Hollenberg, Kan., brought a stool, sat back to survey the scene of machines moving around and through the field. A collector, he came to watch and enjoy. Several others were watchers too but there were tractors to drive and pickers to pull if anyone wanted to say they had picked corn with a one-row corn picker.

Others in the field were Robert Feldmann, Smith Center, with a 1953 Farmall Super H pulling a McCormick 1PR and Randy Budke, Beloit, with a Farmall M and a Dearborn Wood picker. The biggest tractor was a 4230 John Deere driven by Craig Ballou, Delphos. The big tractor pulled a John Deere 300 picker and the two machines picked a lot of corn!

This was the Bohnert Farm's last Corn Picking Day. But for those who just like to see the old machines run and pick corn or want to have fun picking corn, there are plans being formed to have a similar event in another location. If you are interested, the organizers to contact are Robin Edmonds (785-224-5449), Dan Emmot (785-738-8456) or JR Vandergiesen (785-282-0591). Look for information next fall about the 2023 Corn Picking Days.  


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