Expo XXVI Cancelled

Expo XXVI Cancelled

And Being Morally Responsible

When Jack Cherry decided to cancel Expo 26 — 2021, I was not in favor of his decision. I felt that he was being overly guarded and cautious regarding COVID and the extenuating circumstances which had developed due to shutdowns and mandates. I felt that COVID was being politically weaponized and the methods which had been put in place were too extreme. My feelings changed, however, when in October 2020 my oldest brother died from complications of COVID. He had sent me a birthday text in September; it was the last communication I had from him. He was isolated in the hospital’s ICU and intubated for a month. When it was determined that there was nothing more that could be done for him, he was taken off the ventilator, and only lived long enough to tell his wife and two adult children goodbye. In late February 2021, his 43-year-old son was required by his employer to get a COVID vaccination. His health immediately deteriorated, which led to highly skilled medical care and intubation at one of the largest hospitals in Iowa. He died from complications on May 1, 2021. Jack died July 3, 2021. Hindsight proved that he had made the right choice at the right time.

Expos are a celebration which showcase the achievements of individuals who have restored the finest examples of John Deere Tractors and Equipment. That celebration brings people from all over the country to a specific concentrated venue. Event organizers have responsibilities which include the safety of the participants as well as the attendees. Expo 26 was announced in the November–December 2021 issue as a tribute to Jack’s life and involvement with John Deere. However, no one could have predicted (when the decision was made in October 2021) the dramatic changes which have occurred within our society and economy:

  • Fuel prices are the highest in history, with no predicted end in sight. A local farmer commented, “We got the crops in, but there’s no guarantee there will be enough fuel to get them out.”
  • Many fuel pumps now have restrictions on use. It’s no longer “fill up,” but how much you are allowed to purchase.
  • Heating and cooling costs have skyrocketed, with predicted brown- and blackouts as more demand is placed on already strained energy grids.
  • Inflation is running at a four-decade high. Farmers are experiencing double, triple, and even quadruple price hikes on fertilizer, seed, herbicide, etc. Many products are either in limited supply, or simply not available.
  • Store shelves are no longer stocked the way they were a year ago. Supply chain issues continue to plague consumers, including basic human need items. Parents are scrambling to find infant formula for babies. Simply unheard of.
  • Violence is rampant. Waterloo, Iowa, reported seven separate gun shootings, leaving two persons dead (including a driver shot in the head), during the week of this year’s Memorial Day celebration. One man was reported being shot while he was trying to purchase lemonade. Random acts of violence and property crimes continue to climb. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a mass shooting took place in April and recently a vehicle-to-vehicle shooting occurred, road-rage being suspected.
  • Staffing shortages have left many businesses operating on a limited basis. One of the best water parks in the country, Lost Island (Waterloo) had to shut down early in 2021 due to the inability to staff the park. A fire early this year destroyed new construction of a building and its ride in the theme park, causing a setback.
  • The John Deere Waterloo Tractor Works is not open for tours as in the past.
  • The CDC is now monitoring cases of monkeypox. COVID is still never-ending throughout the world.

Jack was a product of the “silent generation”(1925–1945) and was raised during a period of war and economic depression. I remember him writing about and warning current-day collectors to not let their hobby interfere with or take away from their primary responsibilities of work, family, and home. The circumstances which now affect all Americans cannot be ignored. Continuing to consume limited fossil-fuel resources for non-essential purposes is a situation that could lead to dire consequences. Crops must be harvested by farmers in attempts to continue to feed the world and combat rising food costs. Events that require extensive travel by participants and attendees need to be evaluated by those promoting them. How many precious gallons of fuel are being wasted for the sake of frivolity? Bringing thousands of people from across the country only spawns a new set of breeding grounds for contagious viruses. And my biggest concern is the safety for attendees, of which there is no guarantee. The local escalating violence is a very real and dangerous situation. I cannot and will not put anyone in harm’s way or ask them to attend an event which could put a strain on their family financial obligations. The decision to cancel Expo 26 has been very difficult, but I feel it is the most conscientious action to take. If you have any comments, please do not call the Club office, but rather send your thoughts via letter or Email and I will publish them in the next issue of Two-Cylinder.

Brenda Harrenstein