Memories Are Kept Alive At Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Steam engines parade

The large and small steam engines parade daily in front of the new grandstand which was completed just before opening day at the 1969 Reunion. The new structure seats 2500 persons and is fireproof.

Mrs. Leo Turley

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Route 4, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641.

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, home of the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion, has been busy since last September making plans for another mammoth steam festival which will be opening September 3rd for five days and continuing through Labor Day, September 7th.

Labeled by author - photographer, Dana Jennings, as 'The Greatest Steam Show on Earth,' this festival is again expected to attract visitors from all states and many foreign countries. Last year visitors from every state spotted their hometowns on a large map near headquarters. Seventeen countries were also represented.

More improvements are now being made in the camp grounds to accommodate more visitors who wish to camp. 1615 separate units turned the area into a small city during the 1969 Reunion. Many will again be coming for several days ahead of the opening date to join in the excitement of the last minute preparations.

The Reunion offers a taste of life as it was lived in rural America around the turn of the century.

Thousands thrill each year as the large giants, fire boxes glowing and whistles shrilling, followed by the baby models, many driven by their proud builders, parade daily in front of the free grandstand. They number nearly 100 and are joined by about 60 early-day tractors.

Old Maria No. 6, which huffed and puffed its way amid the hills of the logging country near Hardyville, South Carolina, pulls passenger cars on repeated runs around the grounds carrying hundreds of visitors who have flocked to this Iowa celebration to 'throttle down' and relive for a time the farm days long gone by.

Those of all ages, including women and children, find a different kind of entertainment in the early-day village. The buildings in the village, many preserved as they were when they served Midwest inhabitants, are alive with activity. The country school holds a spelling bee, a song fest or debate; the church has hymn singing and a daily 5 p.m. vesper, golden anniversary couples renew their vows, or there is an occasional real live wedding; visitors may buy a pickle, a piece of cheese or a sunbonnet at the country store; mail a letter at the post-office; pick up a paper from the old-time printing press; enjoy the entertainment in the tavern and buy a cold cup of cider. The village also includes a jail, bank, fire station, blacksmith shop, barber shop, bandstand, medicine wagon and depot.

Demonstrations are going on all of the time to illustrate early-day crafts. There is steam and horse-power threshing, shingle making, large and miniature saw mills operating, plus a veneer mill. Those people who have mastered their art demonstrate spinning, weaving, quilting, caning, broom making, sorghum making and soap making, plus the preparation of several thousand taffy apples. 15,000 were made for visitors-last year.

Stationary gas engines, expected this year to total 300, are brought from as far away as California. They will be used to shall corn, power a miniature saw mill, oat huller, burr mill and grist mill, to name a few. In the nearby antique farm machinery building, visitors can see the 125 horsepower Corliss engine.

Food is one of the big attractions at the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion each year and is reminiscent of that kind of fare that was served to the 'threshing crew' each harvest time. 6152 pieces were consumed during the show time last fall, plus 450 gallons of cider and 2000 pounds of popcorn to name a few.

America's oldest continually running tent show, the Schaffncr Players, an antique itself, will have daily performances and again will present a full repertoire of vaudeville, drama, music and fun. It will be completing its 45th year of entertaining the folk of rural America with entertainment that makes one forget the world as it is and remember the keen enjoyment of the obvious. The Schaffner Players will set up for the full week so that fans of this type of theatre may see more performances.

Competition and enthusiasm are generated at the checker tournament, the horseshoe pitching contest and the Old Fiddlers contest, the latter offering $200 in prize money. Antiques are for sale by 20 dealers.

Homes and hearts will again be opened this September in this friendly southeastern Iowa town where thousands pour in. Motels and hotels accommodate Reunioners, as well as room in private homes.

The Association is a non-profit organization and a $2 membership button admits one for the five-day show. Children under high school age are admitted free. Ground trains serve the 160 acres of the show grounds, free shuttle bus service is provided to and from the grounds to the Mt. Pleasant business district, free parking on the grounds, free programs each day in the big tent for the ladies, and the American Association of Retired People hosts a 'hospitality tent.'