P.O. Box 43 Rogers, Minnesota 55374
The 22nd annual Rogers Threshing Show took place the third weekend in August, 1992. Four days later, Walter Dehn passed away unexpectedly. He was one of the founders of the show. His farm became home to the show in 1972.
We had a year-to-year lease on the land and now we were to enter a period of real uncertainty. The Rogers area has grown dramatically, due in part to its access to 1-94 and to Minnesota Highway 101, both major traffic arteries. The show now found itself on land that had become very valuable. We quickly found that we could not buy it. We finally negotiated a two year lease (we had hoped for five) and the real work began!
First we had to examine our options. We went to local town councils to plead our cause. We had meetings with county parks officials to see if we had anything in common there. We had meetings with community parks departments. We looked at acreage in many locations. Our two year lease looked impossibly short!
Finally, in March 1993, we located 54 acres. The site was only 12 miles from our old location and the price was right. The Rogers Pioneer Power Association, Inc. met to consider the choices we had. The vote was almost unanimous to buy the 54 acres at Northern, Minnesota.
We appeared before the Burns Town Board in July. They referred us to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a public hearing. In late July, several of us appeared for a grueling hearing where four neighbors objected to the show. We were questioned extensively by commission members during the regular meeting. They ultimately recommended approval.
The town board meeting was more difficult than the P & Z meeting. The same neighbors presented objections. The approval of the Town Board did not cause a celebration! We did not expect to hear them say, 'Oh, and by the way, you'll have to get a conditional use permit from the DNR.' Our proximity to two lakes made this step necessary. Our hearts sank because we had to go through another public hearing.
Meanwhile, the 1993 show came and went. Seven inches of rain fell in the week before the show. We were happier than ever that we were moving! The Rogers site was on a wetland and when it rained it was a bog. If we needed to be convinced that moving was the thing to do, that did it.
In mid-September we attended our second Public hearing. Only six of us went but our same neighbors were there as expected. We expected to deal with shoreline management issues and other issues that might affect the environment. Action was delayed until October. We asked our membership to support us by showing up at the next meeting in large numbers. The large crowd that showed up packed the room. After a short meeting, the conditional use permit was approved.
The celebration was short! We signed the purchase agreement. We immediately began dismantling the first two buildings. We now had 14 months to move the show! Plans had to be made for electricity, a well, and the site plan had to be completed. We began actively seeking donations of goods, services, and cash. We made plans to hold the 1994 show at Now-then.
The winter months were spent planning. On February 24, 1994 we closed on the purchase of the 54 acres at Northern. We now owned our own land. The site plan was turned in to the DNR. Arrangements were made to have the well drilled and electricity run in as soon as the ground was thawed enough. We had to build a driveway and fence two sides of the property. The FFA planted trees in May, and then the buildings began to go up.
We would have preferred to put up new buildings rather than dismantle the old ones and rebuild them, but lack of funds made it necessary. The log house was moved and a larger summer kitchen built on. By June, we felt we weren't going to ever have a show on time! But we kept working on it. The sawmill was dismantled at the old show grounds and we started to set it up at Northern. We finished one week before Showtime.
By now, people were showing up evenings and weekends to help wherever they were needed. Cash donations seemed to keep pace with the need. The work that was done was incredible. In spite of the fact that some of our Rogers neighbors fielded a show on our old parking lot the week before our show, we had a great turnout for the 1994 show. The weather was great. Our guests' most frequent comment was that they couldn't believe how much was done in that first year.
At the close of the 1994 show, we all collapsed for a few weeks (to visit the other shows of course) and catch our breath before getting back to work. We now had only four months to finish removing buildings, generators, steam engines, boiler, and much miscellaneous equipment. We went back to it in mid-September.
On December 23, 1994, we had the General Store moved out and thus finished 23 years of shows at that site in Rogers. This year on August 18-20, 1995, we will celebrate our 25th anniversary at our new grounds.