To spark their 7th annual Power and Progress Show, held July 18-21 at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville (Ill.) the American Thresherman's Association presented two new events. They were so successful, everybody now hopes they can become traditions.
The first was an impressive memorial tribute to their deceased members. The second was a closing night 'Steam Engine Frolic', and added free attraction before the grandstand.
Unofficial estimates set the 1966 attendance at more than 12,000 although there was no way of estimating actual head-count because of the large number of 'Family' tickets sold. Gate-men said these tickets usually meant 'carloads.'
Paul Wagner of Willisville (Ill.) president, said morning and afternoon crowds were as heavy as evening attendance this year indicating good interest in the daylong demonstrations of wheat threshing, plowing, and sawmill and shingle making operations.
He added that the daily programs held close to time schedules this year and that exhibitors and members worked closely together to handle all phases of the four-day classic.
These steam engine memorial tribute to men who loved them was a colorful and impressive ceremony in the shady center ring of the Fairgrounds, directly in front of the grandstand. Twelve engines formed a semicircle around the flagpole with their owners and engineers standing at the right front wheels with bared heads.
George F. Bahre of Coulterville (Ill.), secretary-treasurer of the association, read the list of deceased members after which President Wagner pulled the whistle cord of 'Old Smoky' in one long blast. 'Old Smoky'' is the treasured 18 h.p. Peerless owned by the Thresherman's Association and on permanent display at the Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville.
Nierman, Herman Flota. Ashley Cox, John Cox, Jack Wollard, Lee H. Decker, Carl Schroeder and Gerold Blakely. All were from Illinois.
The impromptu closing night steam engine jamboree was such a hit it will become a regular feature. Especially amusing was the race for the slowest-moving engine. The last one to the finish line was declared the winner.
Dedicated to furthering education on both modern and outdated farm machinery, the American Thresher-man's Association has about 250 Midwest members. One of its goals includes establishment of a steam museum.