Archive for Sunday, August 7, 1994

BEE HARKS BACK TO SIMPLER DAYS

August 7, 1994

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McLouth's annual Threshing Bee shows people how farming was before the invention of modern machinery.

Ralph Bailey met his wife at his first Threshing Bee.

Her father was president of the Bee, which has been held in McLouth on the first full weekend in August every year for the past 37 years. She was working at the gate and met Ralph when he came to check in a fire engine he was going to show.

Today, Bailey is president of the annual event and spends a full year organizing its activities, which are intended to show what farm life used to be like.

"It's kind of remembering the past, how farming used to be done," Bailey said. "We still have the steam engines used and the threshing machines. That's how they used to do it before combines. It was a community affair. People went from farm to farm, and everybody worked together back then. It was a celebration."

The Bee, which is the largest in Northeast Kansas, began Friday with a concert by Brian Black, cousin of country and western star Clint Black. It continued all day Saturday and today.

In addition to threshing exhibitions, the weekend included an antique-tractor pull, antique-car show, a country dancing exhibition, flea market, draft-horse pull, train ride and tractor pull for children and other activities and shows.

"It brings in a lot of money for us and brings in a lot of different people," Bailey said. "It kind of puts the city on the map."

B.J. Robinson, Bailey's father-in-law and the former Bee president, said the event started 37 years ago on a farm owned by late McLouth resident Herman 'Slim' Watson.

"Him and a couple of his neighbors got their heads together and decided they wanted to do a little threshing," he said. "One summer day in August, they decided they'd do a little threshing and they did a little advertising. At that first show, 2,000 people showed up."

The show continued on Watson's farm for several years, until the association that was formed acquired 60 acres, on which the Bee is held every year.

"Everyone comes out for the Bee," Robinson said. "We keep this town alive through this show."

David McHenry, treasurer of the McLouth Kiwanis that supply food for the Bee, said the annual event helped to bring the community together.

"It's a way of keeping history alive," he said. "A lot of young kids have never seen this. And it brings people together. Not only the workers, but the whole community. Everyone seems to have a good time."

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