It Was A Super Bee In '73

A Locomobile Steam Car

Bill Paulson

Content Tools

Butterfield Advocate, Butterfield, Minnesota 56120

MORE STEAM for the 1973 show! This time it was a Locomobile Steam Car brought to the show by Ed Sundholm of Albert City, la. The car, an 1899 model, was hand restored two years ago. Parts had to be hand tooled because they're obviously no longer available. Sundholm, who drove the quiet steamer around the grounds, impressed the crowd with its immaculate restoration. But he never wandered too far from water. The car gets 1 mile per gallon of water. Courtesy of Bill Paulson, Butterfield Advocate, Butterfield, Minnesota 56120

It's true. As the 7th Butterfield Steam & Gas Engine Show rolled to a stop Sunday evening nobody who worked at or visited Voss Park during the weekend could deny it was a super show. And those who have been to all seven will tell you it was easily the best.

Saturday, when overcast skies and a gentle breeze swept Voss Park, had to have produced the finest crowd in show history. Sunday, when the sky was clear and the sun burned down on the park, another record-breaking throng attended, making this the best attended show in history.

Crowd estimates run anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 with somewhere in between probably close to the real count. In the parking lots the attendants Sunday were faced with a steady stream of cars coming and going so that the lots never were completely filled, but then cars kept coming after the machinery parade at 2:30, and this has never happened before.

A first tally of gate receipts indicates they will probably top the 1971 show which had taken in the previous high. But that's just a count of the men who paid to get in, and parking attendants said there were many more cars filled with families than in previous years. Concession stands, too, reported receipts above previous highs.

If registrations are indicative of how the show drew people from all over, then Butterfield is certainly on the map. At the newly established Pioneer Home there were 2,286 registrations coming from 27 states, six countries and two Canadian provinces. At Engine House No. 1, where many displays and exhibits were held, registrations numbered 1,955 including 21 states and four countries. And no doubt during the peek periods of the show there were many visitors who didn't register.

At the Sunday morning church service, where Air Force Chaplain Dave Valen gave the sermon, the crowd as well as the collection was easily the largest in history. Chaplain Valen, son of a former First Lutheran pastor and a Butterfield graduate, traveled to Butterfield from Andrews Air Force Base, Va., for the occasion.

Exhibits and exhibitors increased in both quality and quantity from last year, coming from as far away as Illinois (and that, of course, was Bob Butterfield of Wilmington). At the 1973 show there were 55 gas engine and tractor exhibitors from out of the Butterfield area and 21 of them came for the first time. Fifteen were from Iowa, five from South Dakota, three from Wisconsin and one each from Nebraska and Illinois. Next to Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield who drove 530 miles were Mr. and Mrs. Howard Schultz of Wausau, Wis. who traveled 450 miles to show their model Rumely.

Some scenes from the 1973 Butterfield Steam and Gas Engine Show. It was their Seventh and best Reunion. Courtesy of Bill Paulson, Butterfield Advocate, Butterfield, Minnesota 56120

The exhibitors who brought everything from classic cars to an 1899 Locomobile Steam Car were unanimous in their praise of the show and most promised to return. Comments like, 'I'll be back!' 'One of the best shows in the nation!' 'The grounds are great and the people are greater!' are just a smattering of what exhibitors told Kit Juhring as he registered them. (Juhring, Carmel, Cal.'s August gift to the Bee, has made the information and registration booth his pet project and has plans to double its size for next year's show.)

Joel Knudson, who headed the growing antique car and truck section, had 37 exhibitors displaying. This year visitors could vote on their favorite and Bob Butterfield was awarded a trophy for his 'most popular' 1932 Auburn classic car. Second place went to a 1911 Model-A pickup from Sleepy Eye and third place was taken by Ed Sunderholm, Albert City, Ia., with his fascinating 1899 Locomobile steam car. The vote, we should report, was very close among the top three.

The machinery exhibits, the threshing, the wood cutting all were the best they've ever been. The 20 acres of oats were dispatched in efficient fashion by six separators doing the threshing and powered by everything from Irv Harris' 35-70 Minneapolis to Garrit Havellar's scale Massey Harris. The yield was 75 bushels per acre and that, too, was a new record.

Among the 21 new exhibitors came such new displays as a miniature saw mill and steamer, a buckwheat mill, many rare gas engines large and miniature, as well as more tractors. And all showing the workmanship and skill grown to be expected at the Threshing Bee.

The displays in Engine House No. 1 were new and numerous, too. Willis Linscheid showed his butterflies; gals spun wool, made corn husk dolls, wove rugs, made lese, made rope and even tried to make soap. The general store and old fashioned kitchen were favorites, too, with the store doing a brisk business in selling some of the Bee novelties like homemade soap.

Long lines were ever-present in the doorways of the District 12 school, the Pioneer Church and the Pioneer Home each giving a peek to visitors of how it used to be.

But of course it was the area folks who really made the show. More and more they have shown an interest in restoring machinery or other artifacts of our pioneer past to a point where the Threshermen's Assn. who on occasion have wondered if interest might start dwindling now wonder if the show will ever quit growing.

BTA president Wayne Kispert, who annually suffers his way through the 2-day show worrying about its problems, could again only comment on how well things had run. He alluded to the professionalism of all the local people involved in putting the show on, feeling this is what makes the show what it is. 'The quality was up again this year. We surpassed any previous show. What else can I say?'

Kispert also had a few kind words about the multitude who turned out to help clean up the grounds Monday. 'It was fabulous. If the grass wasn't a little stomped down, you'd never know we had held a show.

So 1973 is history and only the fond memories of the 7th show exist. Plans and improvements are already starting for the 8th Annual Steam & Gas Engine Show August 17-18, 1974. Two days nobody in Butterfield will miss!