A convoy of tractors, led by Nashville country music star Tom Wurth, came through Webster City on Wednesday for the Blank Children's Hospital Tractor Ride.
The "Playing for Change" tractor ride consists of five tractors and several other vehicles that are traveling across the state raising money to benefit Variety Intensive Care Neonatal Unit equipment needs at the hospital, located in Des Moines. The ride began Monday in Onawa, and will end Saturday in Dubuque with a final large show from Wurth.
Dick Barkema, from Klemme, and Wurth came up with the idea for the ride last year. So far, their ride has raised about $5,000 for the hospital.
Dick Barkema, driving the front tractor with Tom Wurth sitting behind him, both came up with the idea for the tractor ride across the state of Iowa to raise funds for the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
"People back here in Iowa have been generous, they've been wonderful to work with, and we're also having a good time," Wurth said.
The group has been following old Highway 20 on their way across the state. Barkema said those driving past the convoy have been very nice and respectful. The weather has also been favorable for their ride so far, with sunny skies to ride under.
However, the overall weather of the midwest this spring has been a detriment to the size of the convoy. Gene Huber, another tractor driver on the trip, said heavy rainfall has forced many farmers to plant later than usual this season. As such, their tractors are busy being used on the farm.
"This is the first year this has been tried, and we didn't get as many tractors as we'd hoped," Huber said. "It didn't turn out as well as we'd hoped, but we're here and we're doing it and having a good time. When you're going 13 miles an hour down the highway, you notice a lot of things you wouldn't notice going 70 miles an hour."
Each night, the convoy stops and Wurth performs a show to raise funds for the hospital. While the convoy has passed through town, every concert that Wurth performs will be streamed live over the internet. The stream begins every night through Saturday at 7 p.m. at tomwurth.com. A recording of his Tuesday show in Fort Dodge was also available online at press time.
Many visitors turned out for the event. Residents from Southfield Wellness Community and many families turned out, and were provided refreshments from the Webster City Chamber of Commerce and Hy-Vee. Children also took the chance to pose for photos with their friends and families on the tractors.