Farm Collector

Threshing Bee Captures Farm Life of Yesteryear

By Staff

FROM Waukomis Steam Threshing Assn.

Art Kosted 3832 NW 18 Oklahoma City 73107

In a time when Americans are turning to the nostalgic past and
the simple pleasures of life, the steam threshing bee of yesteryear
has become a special attraction in the agricultural belt. One of
the ‘granddadies’ of them all is the Waukomis, Okla., Steam
Threshing Association, which holds its 18th annual bee Friday
through Sunday, July 28-30, eight miles south of Enid in North
Central Oklahoma.

The three-day event is held on the Harry Landwehr farm three
miles west of U. S. 81 at Waukomis. It features a daily grand
parade of mammoth antique steam engines used to help break the sod
and harvest the crops around the turn of the century. Also on the
program each day are a steam engine race, a Baker Fan test, steam
wood sawing and other events.

The daily grand finale is actual threshing of 30 acres of grain
(barley or wheat), followed by an old-time farm meal in an old cook

Begun originally as a one-man show by the late Harry Landwehr,
the Waukomis Steam Threshing Bee is now sponsored by the nonprofit
Waukomis Steam Threshing Association, organized in 1966 to
accommodate the ever-growing crowds. A $1 admission fee is charged
for the threshing bee to cover such association expenses as fuel,
insurance, and maintenance of the rare machines. Children under 12
are admitted free.

Art Kosted of the Waukomis Steam Threshing Association, said the
annual show draws crowds from throughout Oklahoma and bordering
states. Spectators include older folks who come to reminisce about
how things used to be-when farmers worked together in large crews
to thresh the crops with the giant steam engines, while their wives
cooked huge meals and did a bit of socializing.

Mingling among them are city dwellers and youngsters, curious to
see if harvest time was as much workand as much funbefore advent of
the combine as grandpa always said it was.

Kosted said the Waukomis-based group is only one of hundreds of
similar associations around the country which are helping to
preserve a significant era in American history by restoring old
farm machinery and tools and demonstrating their use at annual

Antique equipment demonstrated at the Waukomis Threshing Bee
includes several types of steam and gas engines, tractors and
plows, stacker separators, a horse-drawn water wagon and other
relics of the past.

The Waukomis steam threshing demonstration vividly depicts the
progress in farming equipment to those familiar only with
today’s combine, which cuts and threshes the wheat on the field
in a single operation and with one man.

Steam threshing requires that the grain first be cut and shocked
in the field, and then hauled to the thresher. Men with pitchforks
feed the shocks into the jaws of the machine. The huge steam engine
huffs and puffs; belts and gears whir, and grain pours out of a
pipe at the other end. Threshing crews range in size from 12 to 25

For those who wish to recapture a bit of the past, or show their
children farm life as it was in days gone by, the Waukomis Steam
Threshing Bee offers an interesting, informative and relaxing
afternoon in the country.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1972
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