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Deere machines among classic snowmobiles at rally

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One snowmobiler who came out to support a health cause is a Deere retiree.
One snowmobiler who came out to support a health cause is a Deere retiree.

Snowmobilers gathered in Northeast Iowa to ride the snow and to support a health cause.

The fourth annual Fairbank Leaf Spring Rally to benefit the Spina Bifida Association featured a collection of about 120 antique snowmobiles, according to a published report. Among those gathered was James Lalk, a Deere retiree who brought with him two of the 45 Deere snowmobiles he owns and was dressed in a green and yellow snowmobile suit. Deere manufactured snowmobiles from 1972 to 1984.

"These things ride like a lumber wagon, while the new ones ride like a Cadillac," said Lalk, who owns all models except for two. "But it's my era ... I love it."

According to the National Institutes of Health, spina bifida is a pre-birth malady that prevents the backbone and spinal canal from fusing.

Rally organizer Neal Beck said the gatherings casually began several years ago when friends collected to ride the snow. Involvement has increased fourfold since then.

"It's nostalgic," he said. "Some people are into classic cars; we're into classic snowmobiles. I figured if it could benefit a charity that the Iowa State Snowmobile Association supports, even better."

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