Baker engine owned by Charles Barker of Lexington, Ky. plowing at the 1966 Old Time Thresher Show. Photo by Ernest Hoffer. Courtesy of Harold J. Gay, 633 Cleveland St., Decatur, Indiana 46733
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 exhibits?
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 of automobiles.
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 furniture.
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 makes.
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 separation.
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.