369 South Harris Street, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 14, 15, and 16 were big days for the 503 residents of Adams, Tennessee. Over 18,000 people jammed the grounds of the old Bell School for the annual Tennessee/Kentucky Threshermen Association Threshing Show. Once a year this sleepy little town, known far and wide as the Home of the Bell Witch, is filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Many people come with their campers on pickup trucks or towing travel trailers and stay for the entire time. Others come and stay in the motels in surrounding towns while still others come early and spend one long day enjoying the festivities.
On Saturday there was a parade consisting of steam engines, old tractors, a calliope played by a costumed musician, a surry with the fringe on top, antique farm machines, horse and mule-drawn wagons with pioneer clad families sitting in straight back chairs. Many of the men had beards and the women and children wore gingham and old fashioned 'poke' bonnets.
Several fine mules and one baby mule were in the parade which made its way in fits and starts but nobody minded a bit. Food was available from a screened enclosure. The menu included white beans and corn bread in addition to pit barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, and etc. The crowd included people of all ages from senior citizens to babies in strollers and buggies. There was entertainment including old time fiddling and a puppet show. An antique car display attracted attention, too. In one section of the grounds there was a large number of gas engines ranging from one you could hold in your hands to one which pulled a large grist mill making corn meal. The rooms of the big two-story brick school building, no longer in use as a school, were filled with antique furniture of all kinds for sale.
A massive Empire canopy bed had a price tag of $5,000 on it. All over the grounds were craft booths of every description: wood carvings, oil paintings, pen and ink sketches, knitted and crochet items, ceramics, wood crafts, decoupage and dozens of different items for sale. The Tennessee Dairy Goats Association had a herd of goats in an enclosure and when it came time to milk the goats, it was announced over the public address system that everyone was invited to watch. The younger children gathered around with eyes wide open. One lad of about seven or eight was heard to say to another, 'I ain't believing this.' Good TV coverage was made by several channels from Nashville. At one booth a lady was calmly quilting in the midst of all this hullabaloo. One enterprising youngster of about ten had the family's power mower pulling a small wagon riding the small children for 25c. He had a carpenter's apron tied around his middle filled with quarters and bills. Everyone agreed that he'd probably have his first million by the time he was 35.
On Friday night there was gospel singing, a square dance on Saturday night and on Sunday there was a joint church service under the big tent. A very impressive memorial service for our deceased members was given by Director William Turner who is also our historian. On Sunday evening after all the activities had ceased there was more gospel singing.
Eleven large steam engines performed at this year's show. They included the following brands: Russell, Gaar-Scott, Frick, Nichols & Shepard, Case, and Keck-Gonnerman, Allis Chalmers, McCormick-Deering and John Deere. Edgar Hill, another director, was engineer on the Keck-Gonnerman engine which operated the saw mill. He was especially good at riding around in the back of a pickup truck without use of hand or foot controls.
We think we have one of the youngest steam engineers in the country. Pictured is Rob Turner of Rural Route 4, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, handling a steam engine which he does quite well.
This was the biggest and best show we've ever had. Our next show will be July 19, 20, and 21, 1979. YOU ALL COME!