John Deere is celebrating a century of tractor production in the northeast Iowa city where it all began in 1918.

The company is hosting a huge, two-day community celebration in downtown Waterloo on Friday and Saturday (June 15-16, 2018). The event features everything from vintage tractors and engines to kids games and musical entertainment, including a free concert by country music star Joe Diffie.

"This is really a celebration to thank our community, our customers, our fans and all of our employees for the past 100 years that we've had here in the Cedar Valley,” said John Deere Project Manager Kelly Henderson, co-organizer of the event.

Three venues are being used for the century celebration: the Waterloo Convention Center at Sullivan Brothers Plaza, the RiverLoop Expo Plaza and the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum. Shuttle buses will be used to transport visitors between venues.

According to Henderson, more than 111 vintage tractors and engines will be on display this weekend.

“We have collectors who are bringing in tractors from all over, as well as our archive tractors that have come out of storage for this show,” Henderson said. “I'm told that there are a lot of collections that have never been seen together before, taking place here in Waterloo.”

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The two-day celebration will include a display so large that, according to Henderson, specific details have been kept a secret from corporate executives. That display will be located inside the convention center's exhibit hall.

“We have set up our entire years of John Deere history through eight eras, breaking it out,” Henderson said. “These will be large cylinders suspended from the ceiling that walks you through not only John Deere's history, but what was happening in the community and the world at the time.”

The museum will have a blacksmith and other demonstrations, along with some children's activities and a photo booth.

Henderson said, while this is a celebration of 100 years of tractors, it's also a recognition of the company's partnership with the Cedar Valley.

“We have over 5,000 employees and thousands of retirees in the area," she said. "We all live, work, volunteer and contribute to the communities.”

The century celebration runs from 3 PM to 8 PM on Friday and 10 AM to 8 PM on Saturday, concluding with the Joe Diffie concert at 6 PM. Diffie is best known for his 1993 song “John Deere Green”, which peaked at No. 5 on the country charts.

“We've become iconic. We're known for our quality, our product, our employees and our customers,” Henderson said. “We've had a great 100 years and we're not stopping. We're looking for the next 100 years and what that has to bring.”

The celebration marks John Deere's acquisition of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918, a purchase that thrust the then 80-year-old farm implement maker into the tractor manufacturing business.

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