Upper Midwest A-C Club™ History
The Upper Midwest A-C Club™ started from a November 1991 meeting of about 28 people from Minnesota and surrounding states at the Edwin and Leona Karg family farm in Hutchinson, Minnesota, where they farm with their son and daughter-in-law, Larry and Joan Karg. The Kargs promoted interest in starting a club by displaying their Allis-Chalmers tractors at various threshing shows, and they collected a list of names and addresses of other enthusiasts from a mailing list provided by the Old Allis News, a quarterly publication devoted to Allis-Chalmers. The Kargs sent letters and made phone calls to the people on their list, trying to bring together a group of like-minded individuals by asking them one simple question: “Would you like to start a club expressly for collectors of Allis-Chalmers tractors and equipment?” Most of those individuals agreed that they would, and after 22 individuals paid their dues, a membership was established! During this November 1991 meeting, which would be the first of many get-togethers for the club, the membership elected officers, agreed upon dues, and planned a rough schedule for future meetings. They also planned a showcase of Allis-Chalmers equipment to be held at the Karg farm during the summer. Over the years, the showcase at the Karg farm came to be known as the Orange Spectacular®, a name which the club trademarked in 2017. The event has grown beyond anything that those people at that first meeting had ever imagined.
The early years of the club were all about gaining membership and growing the club. They declared that on July 12, 1992 they would all get together for the club’s first tractor show dedicated to strictly Allis-Chalmers, and the first years of the show drew a few hundred folks to come to see mainly the Karg collection. To raise funds and expand interest, the Club sold raffle tickets for a restored tractor in 1994. This tradition continues today as a way to keep the attendance to the show free. As attendance numbers began to grow, a larger area of the farm was set aside for field demonstrations, parking, and displays. The show grew by leaps and bounds throughout the 1990s, especially after more areas of interest were added to the show. The most significant additions included tractor pulling, dynamometer testing, and a swap meet area. Soon attendance soared from a few hundred people to thousands of people who were excited to visit the Karg farm and enjoy the event.
The duly elected board of directors knew that additional revenue would be required to continue to offer free attendance while keeping the high standards of the show for the growing numbers attending the Orange Spectacular®. The idea was presented to build and sell a one-of-a -kind toy tractor with all profits to be used for club expenses. After meeting with manufacturers and club members, the club agreed upon a model, and the Orange Spectacular® show toy was born in 2003. The toy hasn’t always been a tractor, though; there has been a combine and several pull-type implements produced as well. The toy has become extremely popular with toy vendors and collectors alike, and new in-box previous show toys routinely sell for much more or even double than the original purchase price. Every year the club comes up with a new toy and almost always sells out before production has even begun.
The club had petitioned for several years to the proprietor of the Old Allis News to have them hold one of their “Gathering of the Orange” national shows in conjunction with the Orange Spectacular® show in July. Finally, after the mid 1990s brought greater attendance and nationwide notoriety for the Orange Spectacular®, the Old Allis News realized that the Orange Spectacular® had become large enough to host one of their national shows. Since that first national “Gathering of the Orange” (GOTO) in 2003, the Orange Spectacular® has hosted the national show once more in 2011. In 2012, the club moved to the McLeod County Fairgrounds to accommodate larger crowds. The new space provided more indoor exhibit space, improved parking, and grandstand areas. In 2016 the Club celebrated their 25th anniversary of the Orange Spectacular®, and plans have been announced for a third GOTO in 2021. Very few shows have hosted two GOTOs and no other show has hosted three; this is definitely a testament to how well run the club and Orange Spectacular® have been since club inception in 1991. The Orange Spectacular® offers numerous activities during the show for families and persons of all ages. The club has started a college scholarship for any person needing assistance for their post-secondary schooling involving agricultural-based degrees. The goal of these initiatives is to help the next generation of collectors and agricultural families continue to keep the culture of the past alive and well, while also breaking new ground into the future. The club has also begun an initiative to remember those persons responsible for the humble beginnings by offering lifetime membership status to the original 22 members who are still in good standing with the club some 28 years later. With the next generation of collectors and enthusiasts stepping into leadership positions, the club is well suited to continue for an additional 30 years and beyond.