Tractors, trucks and old-fashioned fun at Waterman Summerfest

By Kelli Duncan for Chronicle Media

Long rows of antique tractors can be viewed at the 18th annual Waterman summeriest and Antique Tractor and Truck show on July 21. (Photo courtesy Waterman Lions Club).

Lovers of antique tractors and trucks or simply fans of old-fashioned community festivals won’t go wrong with a trip to Waterman on July 21.

The Waterman Lions Club host their 18th annual Summerfest and Antique Tractor and Truck Show on Saturday in Lions Park in the southern DeKalb County community.

The day-long fest is packed with events beginning at 7 a.m. with a community breakfast sponsored by the United Neighborhood Center. Activities conclude around midnight.

Admission and parking are free and there is no charge for most of the events.

Shawn Blobaum, former Lions Club president and current Tractor Show Committee chairman, said the main event of the day is always the “Parade of Power,” where exhibitors get the chance to show off their antique tractors and trucks.

“There’s no cost to bring a tractor and enter it in our show,” Blobaum said. “Some of the prizes we give out are for the oldest tractor, the most unique tractor. So even if you have a rusty old tractor it could still win a prize.”

The Parade of Power will begin around noon. Blobaum said Max Armstrong of WGN Radio and DeKalb County Farm Bureau President Mark Tuttle will serve as guest announcers.

“So basically if you brought a tractor you can hop in the parade, stop in front of our little grandstand and Max or Mark will announce your name, what you’re driving and where you’re from,” Blobaum said.

Blobaum said exhibitors are welcome to bring their tractors during the day on Friday to reduce traffic on Saturday morning. Security will be provided overnight on Friday and Saturday night.

He said they typically have around 120- to 140 antique tractors each year brought by people from all around the area.

“Sometimes we even get some people that bring what’s called hit-and-miss engines and some of those could be from, you know, like 1906 which is really cool,” Blobaum said.

Tractor on display at the 18th annual Waterman Summerfest

Exhibitors who want to test out the power of their tractors can participate in the tractor pull between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. All tractors participating in the pull must be pre-1972 and are divided into six different classes based on weight.

For those who don’t own a tractor but still want to join in on the fun, there will be a pedal pull from 2-3 p.m. where participants compete to pull the most weight on bicycles.

The Lions Club will be selling hot dogs, sandwiches and burgers from their concession stand beginning at 10:30 a.m. Later in the day, the Waterman Fire Department will be putting on their annual pork chop barbecue from 4-7 p.m.

There will be three live music acts spread throughout the day. The first will be The Beaux – a classic rock band playing from 3-5 p.m. Next up will be The Relics who will play older rock music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Snap Shot will close the night with covers of a variety of crowd-pleasing favorites from Journey to Luke Bryan to Bruno Mars. They will take the stage at 8 p.m. and play until the event ends around 11:30 p.m.

Kevin and the Infinite Possibilities, a local singer and storyteller for kids, will be performing from 11-11:45 a.m. There will also be hay rides, a petting zoo and a variety of other activities for kids.

Richard Smith, director of the Waterman Lions Club and Tractor Show committee member, said there will be a flea market space set up where local craft vendors can rent booths to sell their products or services.

“We have people selling books, records, one person will be selling comic books,” Smith said. “There will be yard art, Indian jewelry and crafts, clothing and then we also have someone who is a chiropractor and they will be giving out free massages.”

He said the DeKalb County Community Foundation will be giving out a $2,500 grant to one of the local non-profits at the show.

Anyone interested in having a booth at the show should visit 

Blobaum said there are a lot of new events to look forward to at this year’s festival.

“New this year we’re letting people drive a tractor,” Blobaum said. “So someone will be there that can handle the hand clutch and brake and the participant can actually steer the tractor while it’s moving.”

Another new event is a  “Soybean Adventure” exhibit hosted by the Waterman-Shabbona Business Association from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

“With this event, we’re really trying to put Waterman on the map,” Blobaum said. “So the Business Association realized that there are a lot of corn fests in Illinois but we haven’t heard of any soybean festivals…our goal might be to become the soy capital of Illinois.”

According to Blobaum, the first ever Soybean Adventure will showcase different products made from soybeans such as soy candles and even soybean ice cream.

The day will end with a firework show at around 9:15 p.m.

“The firework show just keeps getting bigger and better,” Blobaum said. “They light them off on the south end of the park there so the fireworks are like right on top of you.”

To see a full schedule of the day’s events, visit 

Blobaum said a portion of proceeds from the fest will go to Lions Club International as well as the Lions Club Foundation of Illinois. He said the rest will be invested back into the community of Waterman.

“This year, we are building a brand new pavilion that the bands will be playing on,” Blobaum said. “It’s done enough for the bands to play on it on Saturday but it’s not 100% done yet.”

He said the pavilion was a $50,000 project made possible by the proceeds from past events as well as the support of community donors. According to Blobaum, the new pavilion is just one of many things the organization provides funding for in the area.

“So buildings or when there’s local kids in need that might needs glasses and can’t afford it, we often step up and we’ll pay for a doctor’s appointment and glasses for them,” Blobaum said.

The Waterman Lions Club is a local branch of Lions Club International – a service organization dedicated to helping the blind and visually impaired.

Visit  for a video of the festival.


Tractors, trucks and old-fashioned fun at Waterman Summerfest–