42nd Reunion Among The Biggest In Association's History

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Midwest Old Threshers Threshers Road Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641 Photos by Jim Adams

The traction steam area contained one of the best collections of Case engines ever assembled at Mt. Pleasant. One of the main attractions was the center crank Case owned by Midwest Old Threshers and totally restored by Wayne Kennedy (shown above) and several dedicated volunteers.

The 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was among the biggest events in the history of the Association. The event recorded the second highest attendance figures of the past decade as people from all over the United States and Canada arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Lennis Moore, administrator of the Midwest Old Threshers organization, said the five-day show in Mt. Pleasant was 'an interesting reunion, in that despite rains which fell during the event, it was in amounts too small to dampen the spirit of those attending or cancel scheduled events.' It was the first reunion in several years when all five Cavalcades of Power were held, along with both tractor pulls and the horse pull.

'With some last minute changes Old Threshers was able to put on all of the country music shows, which went very well,' Moore said. Tanya Tucker was scheduled to perform on Sunday evening, September 1, but was forced to cancel her appearance in Mt. Pleasant for health related reasons. The Don Romeo Agency from Omaha, Nebraska was able to find replacement acts for Tucker and provide excellent shows for the reunion visitors.

'By-and-large the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was one of the smoothest events ever held,' Moore added. 'The Board of Directors did an excellent job of planning for this event and every one of them had their reunion areas of responsibility very well coordinated. In addition, our volunteers turned out in force to complete every task efficiently and with great expertise.'

Midwest Old Threshers' 110 HP Case steam traction engine again rumbled to life during the 42nd Reunion adding to the large group of Case engines gathered for the 5th Annual International J. I. Case Heritage Exposition.

The Case Expo also had a very positive impact on the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion. Held in conjunction with the Reunion, the Expo was the fifth annual meeting of the International J. I. Case Heritage Foundation. The Expo was placed east of the tractor area in a large tent with a backdrop of over 60 flags representing the fifty states, twelve Canadian provinces, and five foreign countries (England, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand). The Case Expo area was always filled with people and there were excellent exhibits of steam engines, tractors, Case cars, and related memorabilia.

Unfortunately, Helen Case Brigham and her husband, Arthur, were unable to attend the Expo. Arthur underwent emergency surgery just prior to the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion. 'We were all very disappointed that Helen could not be with us for the Reunion,' Moore said. 'Helen is the great-granddaughter of J. I. Case and has been a driving force for the Heritage Foundation since its inception. Expo visitors always enjoy visiting with her, and I know she is able to generate a great deal of interest in Foundation membership.'

'I was very impressed with the Case Expo people who stepped in at the last minute to coordinate the on-site operations for the Case Expo. The John Fry's, Kenneth Kelly's, and Chady Atteberry's all pitched in and did a wonderful job presenting the Expo to the visiting public,' Moore added. (Note: We are pleased to inform our readers that Arthur Brigham's surgery was successful and he is presently at home undergoing therapy treatments.)

All exhibitor areas saw increases in the number of exhibited units and the quality of machines on display. The traction steam area contained one of the best collections of Case engines ever assembled at Mt. Pleasant. One of the main attractions in the steam area was the center crank Case owned by Midwest Old Threshers and totally restored by Director Wayne Kennedy and several dedicated volunteers. Kennedy was at the throttle for the Cavalcade of Power opening day of the Reunion and was presented a plaque to be mounted on the engine. The plaque designated the engine as one of the many projects funded by the Old Threshers Foundation. Kennedy was also commended for his hard work over the past two years involved with completing the project.

The tractor area exhibited 375 antique tractors all of which were of the 1939 unstyled or older vintage. The Case Expo did increase the number of Case tractors exhibited, but there were several other brands that also were brought to Mt. Pleasant. The two antique tractor pulls played to excellent crowds of people who enjoyed watching the old tractors show off their power. In addition to the tractors, several steam engines and engine models pulled for the enjoyment of the audience. Tractor Director Elmer Geigle and Steam Director Mike Parker did an excellent job of coordinating their areas and working with the Case Expo people. Both the tractor area and the steam area had many volunteers stay after the Reunion to assist with putting tractors and engines back in the museums. The units were returned to the exhibit areas in record time.

The members of the S. E. Iowa Antique Car Club continued their long tradition of providing excellent cars and trucks for viewing at the Old Threshers Reunion. The antique cars provided transportation on the main grounds for several special events including the Old Threshers Awards, the 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, and the Sweet 16 Recognition Ceremony. The club has always been known as a 'working' club in that the cars are not strictly 'show' cars, but are taken out and driven by the owners. Several members of the club also added to the tractor pull festivities by dismantling and then rebuilding an old Ford Model T in less than thirty minutes.

The gas engine area featured the Sandwich engines manufactured by the Sandwich Manufacturing Company in Sandwich, Illinois. Records show that 24 featured engines were displayed, and that a total of 928 gas engines were on display at the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion. The gas engine area has continued to attract exhibitors with good quality, restored engines in excellent running condition. The Power House and Wood Shop displays continue to be excellent exhibits in the gas engine area, providing the visitors with a first hand example of how gas engines were used as power sources both on the farm and in small businesses.

The volunteers of the Midwest Electric Railway did an excellent job of shuttling Reunion visitors in and out of the campgrounds. The rider-ship numbers for the trolley operation were well above previous years despite the fact that one of the trolley cars was out of service for one entire day. The trolley cars provide the major conveyance for visitors to reach the Log Village. The Log Village is populated by the members of Explorer Post 1846 and its adult advisors. The Post members provided a living history experience for the Reunion visitors as they portrayed historic Iowa of the 1840's.

As the program has expanded in the Log Village, the educational offerings to the visitors have increased as well. The Post members give Reunion goers the opportunity to experience the clothing, food, crafts, mannerisms, and entertainment of a bygone time. The Post has been supported by the Association since it was formed, but the Post members have devised many fundraising ideas over the past years. One of the major fund raising projects is a Christmas Tour of Homes. The other fund raiser is the sale of Sioux City Sarsaparilla and Creme Soda during the Reunion. With the help of Sanford Leed, alias Dr. Barnswallow T. Farquar, the Post raises ample funds to defray the cost of several activities through the year.

The steam traction 'Engine of the Year' was a 50 HP Case owned by Louis Van Vark and Sons from Pella, Iowa shown here next to the large Case Eagle that was by the Case Expo tent.

The Crafts areas coordinated by Gladys and Clark Burns and Harrison Moore provided visitors with an excellent opportunity to watch skilled craftspeople demonstrate their expertise. Visitors could also purchase these fine crafts as well as many high quality antiques available for sale in the Antique Building. Sales for both areas neared record levels at the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion.

Record sales were recorded by most of the food vendors at the Reunion. Many food concessionaires actually ran out of food products to sell on the final day. Over twenty church and civic organizations serve food at the Old Threshers event. For most Reunion visitors, no visit would be complete without a stop at their favorite food stand. The church and civic organizations earn a significant amount of money from these food operations. These generated funds are traditionally reused in the community, further affecting the economy of the surrounding area.

Another aspect of the Old Threshers Reunion that doesn't go unnoticed is the free entertainment found around the main grounds. All of the free acts are booked by a volunteer committee coordinated by Roberta Callaway from Mt. Pleasant. The committee meets throughout the year and always strives to provide Reunion visitors with the best possible entertainment their budget can provide. The committee also organizes and promotes the Wednesday Bluegrass Festival.

'Yes, the 1991 Reunion was one of the smoothest that I can remember,' repeated Lennis Moore. 'Several factors helped: First, the weather and the general state of the economy allowed people the chance to entertain themselves. Second, all of our food and contact groups were well organized and operated very efficiently. Finally, and I think most importantly, the entire Reunion was well run by the Association's Board of Directors, staff and volunteers. People dedicated to making the Old Threshers Reunion the best event possible. People doing what they do because they enjoy it, and allowing that enjoyment to transfer to the Reunion visitors,' Moore concluded. 'Our volunteers truly make this event a Reunion in every sense of the word; a place people can always come home to!'