633 Cleveland St., Decatur, Ind. 46733
In the month of August, each year, a very important event takes
place in the Central States of the United States, and in
Hoosierland, in particular. What is this that is so important?
‘The Old Time Thresher & Saw Mill Operator Show’, of
course. There must be something special about the show to attract
the countless thousands that attend year after year after year.
Could it be the threshing? the saw mills? the plowing? the veneer
and shingle mills? or the hundred and one other acts and
The first thing that one takes notice of after entering the
grounds are the tremendous number of cars already in the parking
fields. Parking is no problem as space is available for thousands
Probably the most popular attraction at any Thresher Show are
the saw mills. At ‘The Old Time Thresher Show’ power for
the big mill was furnished by the steam engines on the grounds. At
each sawing demonstration, after the logs were sawed into boards,
they were transferred to an edger and cut to the proper width.
Nearby, and at the same time, another mill was in operation. A
miniature one brought to the show by the Lake Bros, of South Bend,
Indiana. This mill was furnished power by two model engines, one a
perfect model, to scale, of an Advance engine and owned by M.C.
Lake of South Bend, Ind. and the other a perfect model, to scale,
of a Baker engine and owned by Paul Cole of Morristown, Ind. A lot
of ‘Barking’ could be heard from these two models as the
saw bit into the log and very thrilling to the large crowd that
attended each performance.
The next attraction was the shingle mill brought to the show
each year by Melvin Lugten, of Hamilton, Michigan where he
demonstrated how a thin slice of wood is shaved from a log. Mills
similar to this perform the same work in commercial operations and
their product ends up as the fine finish on our modern day
Next in line were the Minard-Harder Chaffer and shingle mill
exhibited by Elmer and Jack Egbert of Botkins, Ohio. The chaffer
demonstrated how grain was separated from the straw and was one of
the early phases of threshing. The power for the chaffer came from
a horse-power, also one of the early means of power on the farm. In
this case, the power was from a team of ponies owned by Bob Dafforn
a close neighbor to the show grounds. The shingle mill showed how
wooden shingles were made from a block of wood.
Remember the old cartoon strip called ‘Gasoline Alley’?
Well, there was another version of it at the show. Over one hundred
different makes and sizes of early gas engines were on display and
in operating condition. The owners and collectors of these engines
are just as proud of them as is the man who has a large steam
engine or big gas tractor.
Tired about now? How about stopping and visiting with one of the
many fine concessionaires on the grounds? The line of food, novelty
and snack stands on the grounds are of the very best. They have
been very faithful to the ‘Old Time Thresher Show’,
returning every year for the opportunity to serve the fine folks
that attend the show each year.
On down the line from the gas engine display is where the
plowing performance takes place. Two large gang plows are hooked
together and pulled by the larger steam engines and big gas
tractors, showing the visitor how the land was plowed in the early
days in the vast mid-western prairie lands.
Next to the plowing area was the early American gas tractor
display where such well known old time makes as Avery, Rumely,
Aultman-Taylor, Minneapolis, Townsend and other well known old time
A lot of thanks and credit are due to Wallace Leichty, another
close neighbor and good friend of ‘The Old Time Thresher
Show’ for the next exhibit. This exhibit was a display of early
American antique farm machinery such as old-time plowing,
cultivating and harvesting machinery and they were lined up in such
a manner so as to be directly opposite their like in modern farm
implements as we know them to-day. Much thanks and appreciation are
due the local area dealers of John Deere, Ford, International,
Case, Allis-Chalmers, Oliver and Minneapolis farm machinery.
For the grain threshing, eight acres of wheat were cut and
stored for the show. In addition to the grain loaded on bundle
wagons, there was also a very large stack due to the lack of bundle
wagons. Two large grain separators and one smaller one were used
and in operation at the same time that threshing was scheduled to
take place. Rolland Maxwell of Huntington, Indiana demonstrated
with his hand-fed thresher one of the early phases of grain
Two very popular attractions at the show are the hill climbing
and engine balancing performance so ably performed by Harry
Woodman-see of Dowling, Mich., Melvin Jugten of Hamilton, Mich.,
and Jack Egbert of Botkins, Ohio. No show would be complete without
these acts so well performed by these men.
Remember the old saying about ‘variety being the spice of
life’? At ‘The Old Time Thresher Show’ there was plenty
of variety to add a little spice to the normal events that take
place at any thresher show.
Other popular attractions at the show and so well enjoyed by the
visitor were the performance by the Elkhart County Co. 4-H Club
mounted Sq. Dance and Drill Teams; the pony pulling contests staged
by the Tri-County Pony Pulling Association; the crazy antics of the
Keystone Kops of Findlay, Ohio where no one was safe from being
‘pinched’ and given a ride in the ‘paddy’ wagon;
the parachute drops so ably put on by the local aerial club where
three chutists jumped from a single airplane from an altitude of
two-thousand feet; and the Baker Fan and Spark shows.
Probably the most looked-forward-to and most popular event of
the show is the famous ‘Old Time Thresher’ Sunday morning
church services. Folks come early just to attend these services. A
sound system is installed in the building and surrounding area so
that all can hear and enjoy the services.
As a last word, a lot of thanks are due to the men who spent
countless hours and days in preparation for the show and which
wouldn’t have been the success that it was with-out the
interest and efforts of these men. The show dates for 1967 are:
Aug. 17, 18, 19 & 20.