Fall Shows Offer Different Perspective

| June 2008

Hands-on husking contests give glimpse of the past

Fall harvest time brings a different kind of show. With cooler weather, visitors and exhibitors are more willing to participate in varied activities. Soybeans are being combined, corn is dry and ready for harvest, and colorful fall foliage provides a beautiful panoramic view as you travel. Summer may be over, but good shows are abundant in the fall.

An Ohio show - the Wyandot County Corn Harvest Festival in Upper Sandusky - is a classic fall festival. In past years the club has hosted Ohio Corn Husking competitions. In 2007, the event featured a 'just for fun' hand husking competition divided into amateur, professional, gender- and age-based categories.

The show is held annually the second weekend of October at the Wyandot County Fairgrounds. (Of interest to historians, Wyandot County is the home of the last Wyandotte Indian Reservation in Ohio.) It's often cool or downright cold during the two-day show, but it is generally pleasant enough to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the grounds or a shuttle ride to the field where corn huskers demonstrate their skills.

The show offers a familiar lineup of antique tractors and equipment, including corn harvesting equipment. Probably the oldest piece displayed at the 2007 fall show was a Scientific corn cutter. Hinged steel wheels on each side held the cutting knives. With both wings down, it cut two rows of corn at a time. When enough had been gathered for a bundle, the stalks were tied and dropped in the field. Later, individual bundles were placed in upright shocks. When the shocks were large enough, they were bound tightly and left standing until the corn was dry enough to husk.

Also on display were corn binders, husker/shredders and an early homemade corn picker/sheller. John Eyestone of Upper Sandusky designed, built and used what he calls 'the first documented 4-row self-propelled picker/sheller.' He used an Army surplus 6-by-6 amphibious vehicle dating to World War II with a 4-71 Detroit diesel engine. He mounted two Minneapolis-Moline pull-type pickers in front. Behind them he mounted a Minneapolis-Moline Model E corn sheller. Then he mounted a 320-bushel bin over the rear 4-by-4 wheels. He picked and shelled thousands of bushels of corn from hundreds of acres in a seven-county area in the 17 years he used the machine from 1947 through 1964.

Food? You bet. Beef stew and ham and beans are cooked at the fall show in huge cast iron kettles over open fires. Apple butter, also made on site, is served on thick slabs of homemade bread. Crafts and flea market items (including quilts, rugs, and baked and canned goods) are available in buildings on the grounds. Antique corn items fill one booth to overflowing.