What’s known as “The Gathering of the Green” gets underway today in Davenport, but it has nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s Day.
This event bills itself as the world’s largest gathering of John Deere enthusiasts — in the Quad Cities, where Deere is headquartered. Event chairman Tony Knobbe says one big attraction is the workshop on farm tractor restoration.
“If you are buying or are going to buy or own a John Deere tractor or implement, we’ll help you figure out what, how, when, how much it’s going to cost to restore your tractor,” Knobbe says, “and we also offer other workshops on other interesting topics.”
Those range from basket making to beekeeping. The Gathering of the Green is held every other year and the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic, so this year’s theme is “It’s Fair Time!”
“We’ve got tractors displayed throughout the RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa, as if you’re walking into the John Deere tent at your local or state fair back from the 1930s through the ’70s,” he says. While John Deere farm tractors are the main attraction, the event also draws collectors of other “Big Green” products, from skid loaders to snowmobiles.
The gathering is expected to attract 3,000 Deere collectors from at least 40 states and six foreign countries. “We’ll have evening speakers, executives from Deere and Company. We’ll have John Deere’s great-great-great-grandson Sandy Hewitt on hand Friday night,” Knobbe says. “We have trips and tours of local manufacturing plants, museums, collections of some of our hobbyists from the area.”
A vendor hall of 80-plus vendors features an array of John Deere parts, collectibles, gear, and garments. Events run through Saturday at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport.