Kids fun at the Red Power Roundup

Billy Steers and his wife Julie stand with a display of his popular children’s book series, “Tractor Mac.” The books started as a collection of bedtime stories for the couple’s three children. Many of the characters are based on Steers’ family members and events he encountered on his parent’s hobby farm.

Billy Steers speaks to a group of children Friday morning at the 26th annual International Collectors Club Red Power Roundup on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. While speaking to his audience, he illustrated story boards to make his story more engaging for the children.

Billy Steers holds a copy of one of his books to show an illustration of a tractor. “All of the books have a lesson,” Steers said. He also does all of the illustrations for the books and provides as much educational information as possible in the diagrams he includes in the works.

Bjorn Guzman, 9, of Chadfield, Minn., enjoys a chocolate ice cream cone before taking in some displays at the Red Power Roundup Friday morning. “It’s a humanitarian thing,” his grandfather Erwin Fredrichs said. “Bjorn said he was starving to death so we felt we had to do something.” Guzman is spending the summer with his grandparents Erwin and Ann Fredrichs because his parents serve in the military.

Trenton Tobben, 7, steers his car in the barrel train as it makes its way down the Midway on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The train is owned by the Northwest Missouri Old Thrashers Chapter. Chapter member Clifford Ratliff was the conductor of the train on Friday morning’s routes.

Owen Brockmeier, 2, is held by his mother Stacy Brockmeier as they watch Billy Steers autograph a book for Owen. Steers not only signed the book but also drew a character from the Tractor Mac series of books with each autograph.

It is a long way from Roxbury, Conn., to Sedalia, but for bestselling children’s author Billy Steers and his wife Julie, it is one they gladly took to be a part of the International Collectors Club Red Power Roundup.

Steers is the author of the “Tractor Mac” series of children’s books. He has written 11 storybooks, an activity book and will publish a “flap book” — a book that when you lift a portion of the page an illustration is revealed under the flap — later this summer.

“I’ve been writing the books now for over 15 years,” Steers said. “They started out as bedtime stories for our three sons. I think we’re paying for their college tuition one book at a time,” Steers added with a smile.

The books tell the story of Tractor Mac and his friends who live with him on the farm.

“I grew up on a hobby farm,” Steers said. “My parents had nine acres and we had sheep and horses and other animals.”

It is from his experience on the farm as a young boy that Steers created the ideas for the stories.

“All of the books have a lesson to them,” Steers said. “I try not to get too preachy, but I write about themes such as friendship and how to work together, things that we all face in life.”

Steers said his first book, “Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm,” was special to him because authors always like to see their name on the spine of a book. His favorite work though is “You’re a Winner.”

“You never really like to say you have a favorite,” Steers said. “I do like the message of that book though. It is about how losing isn’t the end of everything.”

Steers draws upon his family as an inspiration for his work as well. Farmer Bill and Mrs. Jay, two main characters in the works, are based on his parents.

“At a lot of our events closer to home, Billy’s parents dress in costume and talk to the kids,” Julie Steers said. “They really enjoy doing it and the kids seem to like meeting them.”

Other family members and pets are also part of the works. The horses in the books are all named after ones Steers had as a child.

One of Steers’ friends is also the narrator for an audio book based on the series.

As part of the Red Power Roundup, Steers narrates a children’s story and illustrates it as he tells the story. He performs three times daily.

Steers is a commercial airline pilot. Attending out-of-state events such as the Red Power Roundup at times creates scheduling issues for the couple, but both said they would not miss the event.

“Case IH (International Harvester) has always been great to work with,” Steers said. “They have been very helpful with allowing me to use their name and have helped so much with our product line. They really are just great people.”

To find out more about the Tractor Mac series of books, visit or email [email protected]

Sedalia Democrat
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