The Chris Busch Threshing Bee


| January/February 1961



Ypsilanti, Michigan

It would seem rather trite to describe the Chris Busch Threshing Bee as something special and unique since there are so many other thresher reunions of a somewhat special nature that are held throughout the summer months in other parts of the country. However, there is a refreshing difference in the format and the environmental locale of the Busch Reunion that gives it, among other things, the quality of a big family reunion. This basic difference is primarily due, I think, to the wholesome country-home atmosphere and the warm friendly spirit that abounds so predominantly at the Busch ranch.

The great majority of the other reunions are held on a county fair grounds or in large city parks, and, due to such unnatural and offbeat locations, they tend to imitate professional show business by featuring a variety of stunts, some silly if not completely ridiculous, which require a type of rigorous and unnatural performance that is entirely foreign and unrelated to grain threshing. And worse of all, by performing such foolish antics the present time old equipment is subjected to stresses and strains that were never anticipated by the designers and manufacturers of threshing machinery.

The basic idea and main purpose motivating the Busch Reunion is to recreate and duplicate, as nearly as practicable, without any item of the inconsistent show 'whoopala' being involved, the threshing operation that was current in the Northwest before the combine came into general use to displace the steam threshing rigs.

The Busch Threshing Bee is held in the heart of the great wheat-producing area of the Northwest, locally known as the 'Palouse Country'. While this section is mostly confined in the southeastern part of Washington, some of it does stretch over into parts of Idaho. The Busch Ranch is in Whitman County which is, according to government statistics, the greatest wheat-producing county in the U.S.

The Busch barn yard, and its immediate surroundings, is a veritable museum for some thirty, or more, old steam traction engines in various stages of repair. However, a few of these old steam engines are in a practicable operational condition. They may need a shim here and there to take up lost motion; a few nuts to betightened;possibly a new gasket or two; stuffing boxes freshly packed and made steam tight; and, with the required water level in the boiler assured and all moving parts properly oiled, these old engines are again in prime running order to belch smoke from their stacks and be in active service as soon as the steam pressure mounts up to the working pressure.