Plowing with draft horses at the 13th annual Deer Creek Sodbusters Show, August 13, 1995. Photo: Mike Evans
Deer Creek Sodbusters Antique Machinery Show
Held annually the second Sunday in August
outside Sterling, Nebraska, the show exhibits a wide range of
farming methods and technology dating from before 1900 to the
late 1950's. The show is intended to promote and preserve the
agricultural heritage of southeastern Nebraska, where the
values and traditions of the family farm have shaped the
It began in 1983 as the "Wolff Bros. Plowing Bee,"
showing off Bob and John Wolff's collection of John Deere Diesel
wheatland tractors. When the show became too much for the Wolff
Bros. to handle on their own, in January 1987, a new non-profit
corporation was chartered in the state of Nebraska for sponsoring
the show, named "Deer Creek" for the creek which ran through the
Wolff farm, and "Sodbusters" for the historic name of the first
farmers to settle on the great plains and make their living working
the land. In addition to antique tractors, small stationery
gasoline engines, antique automobiles, and trucks were first shown
in 1987, as well as demonstrations of threshing, corn shelling, and
farming with draft horses. Steam engines were added in 1988, as
well as attractions to appeal to women and children: a craft show,
flea market, and children's playground. In subsequent years
children's activities have expanded to include a children's
barnyard and pony ride.
Because the show takes place on a working farm, the
field demonstrations such as plowing, corn binding, small grain
binding, and field work with draft horses is authentic. The
Sodbusters operate their own lunch stand during the show, and
"serve the best tasting food of any outdoor summer event in the
area": charcoal-grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and polish dogs.
In 1989, the Deer Creek Sodbusters leased an
additional five acres of land for the purpose of an expanded show
grounds where buildings and other items of historical value could
be placed, preserved, and exhibited annually as part of the show.
Buildings on the site now comprise an elevator scale house, a
windmill and utility barn, chapel, jail, saw mill, and "Rusty Iron
Museum" which contains old machinery no longer operable or
restorable. Museum pieces acquired and on display are a
horse-powered stationery baler, a harvester/thresher, and a fire
truck. The Sodbusters also sponsor or support other events during
the year: Horse and Buggy Days, the Sterling Town Picnic, engage in
educational, civic and charitable works in the Sterling area, and
promote tourism: Each year the Deer Creek Sodbusters show draws an
estimated crowd of 2,000 or more.
Project documentation includes a narrative of 27
pages; 26 8 x 10 color photographs; show bills for several of the
annual shows; newspaper and magazine coverage; copies of several
historic documents relating to antique equipment; scholarship
application forms, recipient list, and thank-you notes from the
scholarship recipients; letters of thanks for Sodbuster-supported
charitable causes; and a special commemorative postal
Originally submitted by: Doug Bereuter, Representative (1st District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.