42nd Reunion Among The Biggest In Association’s History

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Midwest Old Threshers Threshers Road Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641
Photos by Jim Adams

The traction steam area contained one of the best collections of
Case engines ever assembled at Mt. Pleasant. One of the main
attractions was the center crank Case owned by Midwest Old
Threshers and totally restored by Wayne Kennedy (shown above) and
several dedicated volunteers.

The 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was among the biggest events in
the history of the Association. The event recorded the second
highest attendance figures of the past decade as people from all
over the United States and Canada arrived in Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa.

Lennis Moore, administrator of the Midwest Old Threshers
organization, said the five-day show in Mt. Pleasant was ‘an
interesting reunion, in that despite rains which fell during the
event, it was in amounts too small to dampen the spirit of those
attending or cancel scheduled events.’ It was the first reunion
in several years when all five Cavalcades of Power were held, along
with both tractor pulls and the horse pull.

‘With some last minute changes Old Threshers was able to put
on all of the country music shows, which went very well,’ Moore
said. Tanya Tucker was scheduled to perform on Sunday evening,
September 1, but was forced to cancel her appearance in Mt.
Pleasant for health related reasons. The Don Romeo Agency from
Omaha, Nebraska was able to find replacement acts for Tucker and
provide excellent shows for the reunion visitors.

‘By-and-large the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was one of the
smoothest events ever held,’ Moore added. ‘The Board of
Directors did an excellent job of planning for this event and every
one of them had their reunion areas of responsibility very well
coordinated. In addition, our volunteers turned out in force to
complete every task efficiently and with great expertise.’

Midwest Old Threshers’ 110 HP Case steam traction engine
again rumbled to life during the 42nd Reunion adding to the large
group of Case engines gathered for the 5th Annual International J.
I. Case Heritage Exposition.

The Case Expo also had a very positive impact on the 1991 Old
Threshers Reunion. Held in conjunction with the Reunion, the Expo
was the fifth annual meeting of the International J. I. Case
Heritage Foundation. The Expo was placed east of the tractor area
in a large tent with a backdrop of over 60 flags representing the
fifty states, twelve Canadian provinces, and five foreign countries
(England, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand). The Case
Expo area was always filled with people and there were excellent
exhibits of steam engines, tractors, Case cars, and related
memorabilia.

Unfortunately, Helen Case Brigham and her husband, Arthur, were
unable to attend the Expo. Arthur underwent emergency surgery just
prior to the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion. ‘We were all very
disappointed that Helen could not be with us for the Reunion,’
Moore said. ‘Helen is the great-granddaughter of J. I. Case and
has been a driving force for the Heritage Foundation since its
inception. Expo visitors always enjoy visiting with her, and I know
she is able to generate a great deal of interest in Foundation
membership.’

‘I was very impressed with the Case Expo people who stepped
in at the last minute to coordinate the on-site operations for the
Case Expo. The John Fry’s, Kenneth Kelly’s, and Chady
Atteberry’s all pitched in and did a wonderful job presenting
the Expo to the visiting public,’ Moore added. (Note: We are
pleased to inform our readers that Arthur Brigham’s surgery was
successful and he is presently at home undergoing therapy
treatments.)

All exhibitor areas saw increases in the number of exhibited
units and the quality of machines on display. The traction steam
area contained one of the best collections of Case engines ever
assembled at Mt. Pleasant. One of the main attractions in the steam
area was the center crank Case owned by Midwest Old Threshers and
totally restored by Director Wayne Kennedy and several dedicated
volunteers. Kennedy was at the throttle for the Cavalcade of Power
opening day of the Reunion and was presented a plaque to be mounted
on the engine. The plaque designated the engine as one of the many
projects funded by the Old Threshers Foundation. Kennedy was also
commended for his hard work over the past two years involved with
completing the project.

The tractor area exhibited 375 antique tractors all of which
were of the 1939 unstyled or older vintage. The Case Expo did
increase the number of Case tractors exhibited, but there were
several other brands that also were brought to Mt. Pleasant. The
two antique tractor pulls played to excellent crowds of people who
enjoyed watching the old tractors show off their power. In addition
to the tractors, several steam engines and engine models pulled for
the enjoyment of the audience. Tractor Director Elmer Geigle and
Steam Director Mike Parker did an excellent job of coordinating
their areas and working with the Case Expo people. Both the tractor
area and the steam area had many volunteers stay after the Reunion
to assist with putting tractors and engines back in the museums.
The units were returned to the exhibit areas in record time.

The members of the S. E. Iowa Antique Car Club continued their
long tradition of providing excellent cars and trucks for viewing
at the Old Threshers Reunion. The antique cars provided
transportation on the main grounds for several special events
including the Old Threshers Awards, the 50th Wedding Anniversary
Celebration, and the Sweet 16 Recognition Ceremony. The club has
always been known as a ‘working’ club in that the cars are
not strictly ‘show’ cars, but are taken out and driven by
the owners. Several members of the club also added to the tractor
pull festivities by dismantling and then rebuilding an old Ford
Model T in less than thirty minutes.

The gas engine area featured the Sandwich engines manufactured
by the Sandwich Manufacturing Company in Sandwich, Illinois.
Records show that 24 featured engines were displayed, and that a
total of 928 gas engines were on display at the 1991 Old Threshers
Reunion. The gas engine area has continued to attract exhibitors
with good quality, restored engines in excellent running condition.
The Power House and Wood Shop displays continue to be excellent
exhibits in the gas engine area, providing the visitors with a
first hand example of how gas engines were used as power sources
both on the farm and in small businesses.

The volunteers of the Midwest Electric Railway did an excellent
job of shuttling Reunion visitors in and out of the campgrounds.
The rider-ship numbers for the trolley operation were well above
previous years despite the fact that one of the trolley cars was
out of service for one entire day. The trolley cars provide the
major conveyance for visitors to reach the Log Village. The Log
Village is populated by the members of Explorer Post 1846 and its
adult advisors. The Post members provided a living history
experience for the Reunion visitors as they portrayed historic Iowa
of the 1840’s.

As the program has expanded in the Log Village, the educational
offerings to the visitors have increased as well. The Post members
give Reunion goers the opportunity to experience the clothing,
food, crafts, mannerisms, and entertainment of a bygone time. The
Post has been supported by the Association since it was formed, but
the Post members have devised many fundraising ideas over the past
years. One of the major fund raising projects is a Christmas Tour
of Homes. The other fund raiser is the sale of Sioux City
Sarsaparilla and Creme Soda during the Reunion. With the help of
Sanford Leed, alias Dr. Barnswallow T. Farquar, the Post raises
ample funds to defray the cost of several activities through the
year.

The steam traction ‘Engine of the Year’ was a 50 HP Case
owned by Louis Van Vark and Sons from Pella, Iowa shown here next
to the large Case Eagle that was by the Case Expo tent.

The Crafts areas coordinated by Gladys and Clark Burns and
Harrison Moore provided visitors with an excellent opportunity to
watch skilled craftspeople demonstrate their expertise. Visitors
could also purchase these fine crafts as well as many high quality
antiques available for sale in the Antique Building. Sales for both
areas neared record levels at the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion.

Record sales were recorded by most of the food vendors at the
Reunion. Many food concessionaires actually ran out of food
products to sell on the final day. Over twenty church and civic
organizations serve food at the Old Threshers event. For most
Reunion visitors, no visit would be complete without a stop at
their favorite food stand. The church and civic organizations earn
a significant amount of money from these food operations. These
generated funds are traditionally reused in the community, further
affecting the economy of the surrounding area.

Another aspect of the Old Threshers Reunion that doesn’t go
unnoticed is the free entertainment found around the main grounds.
All of the free acts are booked by a volunteer committee
coordinated by Roberta Callaway from Mt. Pleasant. The committee
meets throughout the year and always strives to provide Reunion
visitors with the best possible entertainment their budget can
provide. The committee also organizes and promotes the Wednesday
Bluegrass Festival.

‘Yes, the 1991 Reunion was one of the smoothest that I can
remember,’ repeated Lennis Moore. ‘Several factors helped:
First, the weather and the general state of the economy allowed
people the chance to entertain themselves. Second, all of our food
and contact groups were well organized and operated very
efficiently. Finally, and I think most importantly, the entire
Reunion was well run by the Association’s Board of Directors,
staff and volunteers. People dedicated to making the Old Threshers
Reunion the best event possible. People doing what they do because
they enjoy it, and allowing that enjoyment to transfer to the
Reunion visitors,’ Moore concluded. ‘Our volunteers truly
make this event a Reunion in every sense of the word; a place
people can always come home to!’

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