Threshing Bee Captures Farm Life of Yesteryear

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FROM Waukomis Steam Threshing Assn.

Art Kosted 3832 NW 18 Oklahoma City 73107

In a time when Americans are turning to the nostalgic past and the simple pleasures of life, the steam threshing bee of yesteryear has become a special attraction in the agricultural belt. One of the 'granddadies' of them all is the Waukomis, Okla., Steam Threshing Association, which holds its 18th annual bee Friday through Sunday, July 28-30, eight miles south of Enid in North Central Oklahoma.

The three-day event is held on the Harry Landwehr farm three miles west of U. S. 81 at Waukomis. It features a daily grand parade of mammoth antique steam engines used to help break the sod and harvest the crops around the turn of the century. Also on the program each day are a steam engine race, a Baker Fan test, steam wood sawing and other events.

The daily grand finale is actual threshing of 30 acres of grain (barley or wheat), followed by an old-time farm meal in an old cook shack.

Begun originally as a one-man show by the late Harry Landwehr, the Waukomis Steam Threshing Bee is now sponsored by the nonprofit Waukomis Steam Threshing Association, organized in 1966 to accommodate the ever-growing crowds. A $1 admission fee is charged for the threshing bee to cover such association expenses as fuel, insurance, and maintenance of the rare machines. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Art Kosted of the Waukomis Steam Threshing Association, said the annual show draws crowds from throughout Oklahoma and bordering states. Spectators include older folks who come to reminisce about how things used to be-when farmers worked together in large crews to thresh the crops with the giant steam engines, while their wives cooked huge meals and did a bit of socializing.

Mingling among them are city dwellers and youngsters, curious to see if harvest time was as much workand as much funbefore advent of the combine as grandpa always said it was.

Kosted said the Waukomis-based group is only one of hundreds of similar associations around the country which are helping to preserve a significant era in American history by restoring old farm machinery and tools and demonstrating their use at annual shows.

Antique equipment demonstrated at the Waukomis Threshing Bee includes several types of steam and gas engines, tractors and plows, stacker separators, a horse-drawn water wagon and other relics of the past.

The Waukomis steam threshing demonstration vividly depicts the progress in farming equipment to those familiar only with today's combine, which cuts and threshes the wheat on the field in a single operation and with one man.

Steam threshing requires that the grain first be cut and shocked in the field, and then hauled to the thresher. Men with pitchforks feed the shocks into the jaws of the machine. The huge steam engine huffs and puffs; belts and gears whir, and grain pours out of a pipe at the other end. Threshing crews range in size from 12 to 25 men.

For those who wish to recapture a bit of the past, or show their children farm life as it was in days gone by, the Waukomis Steam Threshing Bee offers an interesting, informative and relaxing afternoon in the country.