MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — The Great Plains LIFE Foundation is getting ready for Saturday’s 19th Annual Illinois Day of the Dozer. Kids will have the chance to help operate farming and construction machinery.

In 2022, more than 1,500 children participated. Not only was that record breaking but it was also the first year after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.

Liz Skinner, Public Relations Director, said it’s a one-of-a-kind experience for the children.

“I think the best part is seeing the excitement on the kid’s faces when they have an opportunity to actually get in this equipment and drive and operate them with the machine operating engineers. It really is an unforgettable experience for them,” she said.

Skinner said the total amount raised last year was in the ballpark range of $40,000. Money raised goes to the Stay 4 Initiative. Stay 4 helps students who are at a high risk of dropping out finish high school. Through the program students also attend college, trade school, or enlist in the military.

Paul Segobiano, Director of Development, said Day of the Dozer is a fun fundraiser compared to the foundation’s black tie event.

“We call this our Dirty Boot Affair because kids can come out, and it’s not a dressed-up affair,” he said. “Kids can come out and have fun. We have one of the largest sandboxes in the world for kids to be able to play in. So, it’s just a dressed down have a fun day.”

Day of the Dozer is Saturday at The McLean County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for kids are $6 in advance and $7 at the door. Admission comes with a souvenir “hard” hat. The event is free for adults. To purchase advance tickets click here.