Archive for Sunday, August 5, 1990

STEAM ENGINES BRING BLAST FROM THE PAST

August 5, 1990

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— Herb Edmonds says the annual McLouth Steam Engine Show and Threshing Bee is more than a bunch of venders, antique tractors and motors.

"Once you get involved in it, it's a perpetual consideration," Edmonds said.

"There's a lot of heritage here," he said. "If you take a look at some of the real crude implements that were invented after the horse, and see how they've improved, it's amazing."

On Saturday, Edmonds was making announcements and describing parade entries over loudspeakers as he has done for the last 20 years of the annual event.

Now in its 33rd year, the engine show and threshing bee features hundreds of displays of working antique steam and gasoline engines, tractors, threshing equipment, antique cars, food and crafts booths, and airplane and helicopter rides.

"We try to have something new for the people each year," Edmonds said.

FRIDAY'S rain made for some muddy conditions at the event Saturday, but it didn't slow down the tractors or dampen the spirits of display participants.

"I've been coming here every year since I was 11 months old. This is my 23rd year," said Duane Lafrenz, a Lawrence resident who organized the gasoline engine exhibits.

More than 200 gasoline motors made from the early years of the century to the 1940s sputtered, whistled and chugged away in the display areas.

Lafrenz, who had 11 engines on display, said he became interested in fixing up the old engines after his grandfather bought the machines and began attending the McLouth show 23 years ago.

"The most common question I get is `What were they used for?'" he said.

Another display participant, Gary Elston of Lawrence, said it takes a special breed of hobbyist to collect antique engines.

"You've got to be nuts," he said, laughing. "Anybody who does this has to just love tinkering with things and getting them running," he said.

ELSTON SAID the antique gasoline motors, which were used for pumping water, running washing machines and grinding grain, now would sell for $100 to $2,000.

"You think you just want one of them, but you start to get into working on it, and pretty soon you have the fever to buy another one," he said.

The steam engine show and threshing bee got started in 1957 when Herman "Slim" Watson and his wife Myrta invited a few antique steam engine and threshing machine owners over to their farm to show off the equipment.

The show has grown since then. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people attended Saturday, said Doug McQuitty, president of the Heart of America Antique Steam Engine and Model Assn., which sponsors the show.

In addition to the engine and tractor displays, Saturday's activities featured a children's pedal power tractor pull and an antique tractor parade and pull.

MCQUITTY SAID tractors that date back to 1910, as well as modern machinery, trudge through the mud during the tractor parade and pull.

Food vendors are selling old-time "threshers" meals, and miniature train rides and a "moonwalk" dome for children also are available at the show.

The event will continue through 8 p.m. tonight.

Featured activities include church services at 9:30 a.m., a country dancing exhibition at 2 p.m., a mini hot rod pull at 4 p.m., and a draft horse pull at 8 p.m.

McLouth is located 15 miles north of Lawrence in Jefferson County.

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