75 HP Keck-Gonnerman, Model-T Ford and Birdsell clover huller.
Rt. 2, Box 30 Tremont, Illinois 61568
For a single day on August 3rd, nearly 1,000 people from Central Illinois boarded a time machine which took them back to the day when steam was king and the whirr of the threshing machine and neighbor working alongside neighbor was a way of life.
This magical trip took place on the Alvin Beutel Farm near Tremont, Illinois as the Tazewell County Olde Thresher's Assn. held their 4th Annual Threshing Bee and Engine Show.
The show strives for realism rather than mammoth size, and the crowds were treated to the sight of Chester Schertz's team of work horses pulling the bundle wagon slowly through the field of shocked oats, as local farmers pitched bundles onto the swaying rack.
Claude Troyer's big 75 HP Keck-Gonnerman steam traction engine barked lazily at the Case 28' steel separator. Old timers and first-timers alike were encouraged to try their hands at pitching bundles. The satisfied looks of the older folks, many grinning with comments like, 'By golly, I haven't done that in 40 years!' make all the hard work and expense of these shows worthwhile.
Other demonstrations of old-time farm machinery showed folks 'how it used to be done!', like an operating buzz saw, Minnie-Moline Hammer-mill, Birdsell Clover Huller, to name a few.
Several acres were set aside for plowing with horsepower and horse power, as two teams of draft horses and several antique tractors turned over their share of black Tazewell County ground. One team did double duty pulling youngsters & not-so-youngsters around the farm in between shocking chores.
A good turnout of gas engines and antique tractors and automobiles completed the scene, along with smaller displays ranging from Maytag washers to butchering equipment.
After the day's work was done, club members, friends and family were rewarded with an old-fashioned thresherman's dinner, served right off the saw horses & butchering boards! Home cooked roast beef, boiled potatoes, German potato salad, field-fresh corn on the cob, (boiled with steam from the big Keck), bread, rolls, pies, cakes and lemonade were all homemade by club members.
The feeling of fellowship and cooperation, so lacking in our hurry-up, get-ahead world, that was rekindled that day is in itself reason enough for preserving these reunions and shows. To be a reminder to the old, and an example to the young, of what life can be, with all its hard work, sweat, joy and satisfaction. And we thank each and every one who helped make this show a success.
One old fellow in his 80's summed it up as he stood on the bundle wagon, having just pitched his last bundle, when he said, 'You know, son, this is how it was... this is real!'