Pontiac Threshermen's Reunion

Steam engine

Content Tools

R.R. #1, Box 69Minonk, Illinois 61701

Jack Oltman of Minonk, IL and Louis Osterman of Denver, CO discuss the boiler jacket on Jack's 1914 Case steam engine.

1991 was an exciting year for the Pontiac Threshermen's Reunion. We'd like to tell you a little about our show and what's new for 1992!

This year is our 44th reunion and, believe me, it really is a reunion. About 16,000 people pass through our gates each year, many of whom have come to Pontiac year after year. Each new year brings new faces and we think that's great!

Our show includes all the usual things you'd expect to see at a steam show, but we have lots of extra things, too.

The Iron Pony steam train runs daily at our park during the show. This scale train was built by Augie Otto in the 1950s and is now owned and operated by the Farmer and Nowa families. You can board the train, sit back and relax for a bit while visiting the show.

Larry Marek of Hinckley, IL engineers this 1906 20 HP Nichols & Shepard owned by Paul and Sue Anderman of Oswego, IL.

Another specialty is the black smith shop, operated by the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association. This group is busy all day and they often work late into the night. The clank of hammers and the spray of orange sparks from the blacksmiths often rival the evening spark shows by our engineers. If you stop by the shop, you'll notice that each blacksmith has created a special decorative hook on each support pole ...'artistry in iron' is a good way to describe what you'll see. Not only do they do decorative work, but you'll often find them repairing or making a part for a steam engine or a tractor to help out the exhibitors as a favor. They are quick to answer questions and they enjoy the work that they do.

We had a lot of 'specials' in 1991. We had our first-ever feature exhibit. The Illinois Valley Two-Cylinder Club organized an outstanding display of John Deere equipment. Jim Kenney, Club President from Streator, organized the exhibit and also conducted slow races for the enjoyment of visitors and exhibitors alike. This truly is a dedicated bunch of John Deere enthusiasts. We'd like to extend a special thanks to them for being part of our 1991 show. They are great!

We were lucky enough to have the rare one-of-a-kind Foden steam wagon at our show, which is owned by Domino Pizza giant Tom Monaghan of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The steam wagon was brought to our show by Marvin and Roland Brod-beck of Michigan, thanks to the Haley boys, who show the antique wagon for Monaghan. The steam-powered wagon was made in Sandbach, England in 1925 and was used for freight transport. It's quite a unique looking piece of machinerypart truck and part steam engine! It was a popular exhibit.

We like to preserve area history and this year the association was pleased to display and operate a 1931 Fairbanks Morse 40 HP engine that once powered the Leroy Water Works. During the show you could always tell the engine was running by its unmistakable sputter and pop! This engine was recently donated to us by an Indiana man who had purchased it in the 1970s. The engine has now found a permanent home in Pontiac.

This 1925 Foden steam wagon was built in Sandbach, England for freight transport. It is now owned by Tom Monaghan of Domino Pizza

On the domestic side, another addition was a quilt show that was organized with the help of the Pinckneyville ladies, Rosemary Doedtman and Alice Dagen. (The Pinckneyville bunch is affectionately known in Pontiac as the 'Outlaws'! They help us a lot during our show.) Area folks displayed quilts of all designs and colors there were double wedding rings, Grandma's flower gardens, pineapple quilts you name it! The quilts were judged and ribbons were awarded. The contest was free and was intended just for fun and enjoyment. One lucky visitor went home with a handmade quilt from the quilt show raffle! This year's quilt show should be bigger and better.

A group of ladies provided another unique feature to the show, an old time General Store, which included a potbelly stove (complete with accompanying cat), penny candy and bright polished apples in granite-ware bowls. There were collectibles of all kinds on display. Ladies in bonnets and long dresses helped customers with souvenir purchases and answered questions about the reunion.

We know 1992 will prove to be just as interesting for our visitors. We will be featuring an Oliver Hart-Parr exhibit and we plan to have a special commemorative toy tractor as a collectible souvenir for those who are lucky enough to get them while they last; supply will be limited. A new farmer's produce market is planned and our craft show will be greatly expanded with many working craft demonstrations.

Who knows what other surprises will be in store at the '92 show? You'll have to come visit us to find out!

We can't close without taking the opportunity to brag a little. Our association received a state honor in October. The Central States Threshermen's Reunion was lucky enough to be chosen as the recipient of the 1991 Illinois Regional Tourism Council's Award for an outstanding contribution to Illinois tourism. We're glad people like our show and we're proud of this award. We invite you to join us in Pontiac, Illinois on Thursday through Monday over Labor Day, September 3-7, 1992. There's something to see and do for everyone. We're proud of our members, our volunteers, and our exhibitors. We'd like nothing better than to have you visit our reunion. Just look for the coal smoke, two miles north of the intersection of I-55 and Illinois Route 23 in Pontiac.

For further information, call Carl Ogle, President at 815-844-3171 or Jack and Mary Oltman at 309-432-2943. Or write Post Office Box 293, Pontiac, Illinois 61764.