Felton sugar beet farmer honored for 50 years in the field

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, traffic was heavy out in the country, with combines in the bean fields and lifters in the beet fields. But it was no ordinary day. There was a party for a Felton, Minnesota

Kenny Dahl, 87, watching his family harvest beets near Felton, Minnesota.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News
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FELTON, Minn. — In the fields, it felt like fall. It was a picture-perfect harvest day. The beets were coming off by the truckload at Dahl Farms near Felton.

Still supervising his sons and grandchildren during the harvest is 87-year-old Kenny Dahl.

"Are you going to leave the trucks out here?" Dahl asked his boys.

"Don't tell me you lost your phone again," Dahl said.

Kenny Dahl's dad farmed potatoes back in the early 1900s. Dahl says he made the switch to sugar beets in 1974.


Today on the 160-acre farm, the family brought in the beets. Dahl remembers harvests that weren't this easy.

"There was one year we were harvesting east of our farm, and we went down the field, and it was snowing so bad, I couldn't find the rows when I got to the end to turn around," Dahl said.

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Like many beet farmers, it took manual labor to hoe those beets until the industry game changer.

On Wednesday, there was even a law-enforcement escort to the Felton Piler. Family then came to hand out cupcakes to truck drivers to mark Kenny's 50-year career in farming.

While his work ethic and dedication hasn't changed, the technology has.

"They've got all kinds of things to look at, and they don't even steer," Dahl said.

With a half century of calling the fields his workplace, he now enjoys the view away from the tractor.

"Right now, health wise, I can't do much, but I just love to drive around and being a windshield farmer," he said.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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