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DeKams show off life on the (mini) farm at Pipestone County Fair

PIPESTONE -- Maybe it's a painting of the prairie, homegrown vegetables, a farm animal or a bench made from the tailgate of a Ford pickup. At the Pipestone County Fair, which is taking place through Saturday, locals have the chance to show off th...

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A scratch-built model Case International 7240, which took the brothers 300 hours to put together. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

PIPESTONE - Maybe it’s a painting of the prairie, homegrown vegetables, a farm animal or a bench made from the tailgate of a Ford pickup. At the Pipestone County Fair, which is taking place through Saturday, locals have the chance to show off the result of their hard work and dedication.

 

It isn’t being entered into a contest, but no project has had more hours poured into it than Jerry and Jimmy DeKam’s model farm town display, where nearly everything is built from scratch.

 

The Ruthton-born identical twins have been at it since 1976, ever since they got their first model car kit at 12 years old.

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The miniature farm has grown since then and now features fully-furnished homes, barns, grain silos and even a corn crib filled with little pieces of toothpicks painted yellow.

 

Everything is 1/25th scale. They’ve built more than 70 pieces of farm equipment, including plows, wagons, carts, trailers, auger elevators and - of course - tractors.

 

Tractors are the DeKams’ favorites, but they also take the longest to make. Their red six-wheel Case International 7240 Tractor, put together in 1994, took a whopping 300 hours to complete.

 

An International Farmall Puller Tractor, built this year, took only 172 hours, but the brothers don’t think they’ve become much more efficient.

 

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“Not really - we can only make about three pieces per hour,” Jimmy said with a laugh.

 

“Maybe if we had a 3D printer, we could just print out the parts, it would be easy,” added Jerry.

But they don’t have a 3D printer, and quite enjoy hand crafting everything from scratch. That means re-creating every piece of the body, engine, transmission, fuel tank, wheels, rims, seats and even the radio. Even a simple car can require more than 500 parts.

 

They start by getting the exact specifications of the vehicle. From there, they painstakingly sketch out the design of the machine, using tricks they learned from a simple high school mechanical drafting class.

 

Once the plans are finished, out comes plastic flat sheet stock, which they shape into parts. Certain parts that need require certain details, such as tractor tires, are crafted out of wood.

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The display looks a little different this year. After years of children messing with their display at various events, the town has been fenced off for the Pipestone County Fair. Still, the brothers were happy to explain specifics of the project to fairgoers.

“We weren’t going to be at this fair originally, but we’re happy to show our project off in our hometown,” Jerry said.

 

The fair will continue with special events through Saturday. On Friday, face painting will run from 4 to 7 p.m., the Pipestone County Pork Producers Feed will run from 5 to 7 p.m., the NTPA Truck and Tractor Pull is at 7 p.m. and hot air balloon flights and tethered balloon rides will be available during the evening.

 

On Saturday, it’s an all-day Rib Cook Off Contest, Antique Tractor Display & Parade at 5 p.m., Ranch Rodeo at 6 p.m. and public rib feed from 5 to 7 p.m.

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