The 44th Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, September 2-6, was quite the accomplishment. Despite two days of rain, the event was pulled off with tremendous efforts by the staff and volunteers. 'After the record floods and heavy rains earlier this summer, we were expecting a tremendous turnout at this year's event,' administrator Lennis Moore said. The crowds were very good, with a record number of visitors coming in on Saturday. Total attendance was 55,350, down just a little bit from last year, but all-in-all a great turnout.
Over 100 steam engines were on the grounds for the reunion. Although they only paraded two days during the event, the demonstrations in the steam area kept exhibitors busy the entire time. With daily demonstrations of a shingle mill, running the veneer mill, and operations of the prony brake and Baker fan, the exhibitors weren't hard pressed to find something to do or talk about. Highlights in the traction steam area included Joe Bishop's 60 HP Case engine. Joe pulled his engine all the way from Arvada, Colorado, and as a first time exhibitor thrilled many reunion visitors with his beautifully restored engine. Joe and his engine also were part of this year's opening ceremonies. A special thanks goes to Leroy McClure of Colchester, Illinois, for organizing threshing demonstrations throughout the event.
With 300-plus antique tractors on the grounds, the tractor enthusiast could look to his or her delight. Besides parading in the Cavalcade of Power Saturday and Sunday, exhibitors participated in the antique tractor pull on Saturday morning. Baker fan and the belt driven dynamometer demonstrations were held daily. One of the highlights of the event was Dwight Shellabarger's tractor of the year, the La Crosse Line Drive. On several occasions we saw Dwight putting the La Crosse through its paces on the Old Threshers grounds.
Joe Bishop of Arvada, Colorado, restored this beautiful 60 HP Case engine and displayed it for the first time at the 1993 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion.
The antique car area again this year had a great selection of finely restored cars. Besides participating in the Cavalcade of Power, many cars were put to use transporting special guests of Midwest Old Threshers around the grounds. The antique cars and trucks were also a highlight in the Harvest Day Parade which is held the day before the reunion.
This year's featured gas engine was the New Way engine (it goes and goes right!!!) Many of the New Way engines were displayed at this year's reunion. With nearly 1,000 engines on the grounds, visitors were treated to a wide variety of demonstrations. Rock crushing, washing machines, and even powering a mini Ferris wheel were presentations put on by this year's exhibitors.
The gas engine area also boasted two new engines in the area this year. The first was a 35 HP Olin engine and the second is the 20 HP Reid engine. Both engines were previously used to operate oil wells and were brought to Midwest Old Threshers through funding provided by the Old Threshers Foundation. Louis and Barry Tuller spearheaded the effort to bring the engines to the grounds. They also coordinated the transportation of the engines from the east coast to Mt. Pleasant.
The grand finale of this year's reunion was the annual horse pull. What a close one that was!!! One inch separated the first and second place teams. Mike O'Niell owned the team of black Shires that pulled the final load 14 feet and one inch. Mike is from Glasgow, Missouri, and believes he owns the only team of black Shires in the state of Missouri. We appreciate all the pullers that make our annual horse pull one of the most exciting events at our reunion.
Horse powered threshing, plowing and the horse powered treadmill were other demonstrations held daily throughout the reunion. Much appreciation goes to James Foreman, Ollie, Iowa, and Director Mike Parker, Fairfield, Iowa, for their diligent work in repairing the 1888 Case agitator powered by a twelve-horse sweep. These men made it possible for reunion visitors to see how threshing was done when there was no gas or steam power. Between reunions, Mike and James fixed the mechanical problems with the twelve-horse sweep.
This year also marked the opening of a new exhibit at Midwest Old Threshers. The Peterson Implement Exhibit is designed to show visitors what an implement dealership would look like in any small Midwestern town around 1939. It will be the introduction display to the 'American Farm Implement Exhibit'' which is scheduled to be completed by 1995.
The trolley area got a special treat this year. Iowa Governor, Terry Branstad, paid them a visit. While on the grounds Branstad presented the 100-Hour Volunteer Awards, and got to drive one of the trolleys. The trolleys are a vital link between the campgrounds and the main grounds, an indispensable mode of transportation from a person's camper to the bustling activities of the reunion.
The trolley also takes visitors down to the Log Village where they can relive life in the 1850s. This year, Joy Conwell, advisor to Post 1846, said the crowds were almost overflowing. Along with funny performances from Professor Barnswallow T. Farquar, America's last minstrel, there were authentic demonstrations of woodworking and old time baseball, the Log Village enjoyed a great reunion. One special note: the Log Village sold out completely of sarsaparilla soda. Sales from this soda go toward the support of Explorer Post 1846 for projects throughout the year.
Campground volunteers are the friendly people you meet when you camp at the Old Threshers Reunion. The volunteers, headed up by Director Bob Woodall, pitched in and helped get Museum B ready for this year's reunion. It took just a half hour for forty-five volunteers to sweep out the Museum, which is, we think, a record! Congratulations to Campground Director Bob Woodall because at this year's reunion his daughter Bonnie was married to Steve Vogler on Sunday afternoon in the Pleasant Hill Church, which is of course located in the campground. Our best wishes to the bride and groom as they start their new life together.
Another thing that went extremely well during this year's reunion were the food booths. If you went away from the reunion hungry, you must not have looked too hard to find something to eat. There was a great response to our food vendors this year. Everyone enjoyed themselves and had looks of contentment as they left the food tents. Thanks to Dave Timmerman, Director of Food Operations. Yes, he gets the fun job of keeping all those tents organized.
Crafters were thrilled with the event as well, and more than once the phrase was heard, 'We'll be back next year.' The many buildings of crafts were some of the reunion's high traffic areas all five days of the reunion. Rain or shine, the crafters booths were jumping. Special kudos to arts and crafts coordinators Judy Collora and Harrison Moore for hours of dedication throughout the year to make things run smoothly.
Our reunion was a great success, and our heartfelt thanks go to the volunteers who made it happen. Without their help and dedication, there would not be a Midwest Old Threshers Reunion. We are excited about the good fortune of last year's reunion and hope that you and your family will come and join our celebration of the great agricultural heritage that we all share and Midwest Old Threshers strives to preserve.