Trailers carrying antique tractors — one even dating back to 1917 — made their way Friday to the McLouth Threshing Bee grounds.
It’s the first weekend of August, which means plenty of threshing, tractor pulls and other activities at the annual McLouth Threshing Bee.
“A lot of them have been in people’s families for generations,” said Pam Petree, secretary for the event.
Friday, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, hay went through a steam-powered thresher, demonstrations that will take place again at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and Sunday.
The threshing demonstrations have been a mainstay at the annual event, which started in the 1950s. After a couple years’ hiatus, saw mill demonstrations have returned. In addition, a Baker’s fan, which tests the horsepower of the older tractors, is a new attraction this year. A tractor teeter-totter, as Mike Moore of Oskaloosa calls it, is situated next to the Baker’s fan. Moore said tractors roll up on to the platform and the key is to have the tractor be balanced on the platform.
“It’s just one more thing to tinker with,” Moore said.
Moore, who originally is from McLouth, says he has participated in other activities, such as drag racing and mud runs. But nothing compares with the threshing bee. He noted that other activities are very competitive, while at the threshing bee, everyone’s friendly.
“Everyone wants to help each other out,” he said.
Friday afternoon, Moore was involved with the saw mill. He said the mill hasn’t been in operation the last two years because funding wasn’t available for a saw, which measures about 52 inches. This year, however, the saw mill was back in operation. Wood cut at the mill will be used for siding inside the museum on the threshing bee grounds, Moore said.
The Heart of America Antique Steam Engine and Model Association of McLouth, which funds the threshing bee, is a nonprofit organization.
“It costs a lot of money to keep these old machines running,” said Angie Cammack, the organization’s treasurer.
A bounce house and other games for youths are at this year’s festival and there are more vendors this year, Cammack said. Also new this summer — a horse and carriage that offers rides making the rounds of the nearly 80-acre grounds.
The threshing bee attracts older people who may have once used the various antique equipment and young enthusiasts alike.
Bob Klinkenberg is the only remaining charter member of the association. He was there for the purchase of the current grounds in the late 1950s. The threshing bee’s first years took place at the farm of Slim Watson before moving to the current grounds.
More than 50 years later, the threshing bee still is full steam ahead.
“It’s a continuation of the way things used to be,” Klinkenberg said.
Activities on tap for today at the threshing bee include a parade of power, drive-in car show, youth pedal tractor pull and a mini-rod tractor pull. A musical performance by Hazzard County will follow the tractor pull, which starts at 6:30 p.m.
On Sunday, another mini-rod tractor pull is to start at 2 p.m.
Each year a different make of tractor is featured. This year it is the Oliver tractor.
For more information, go to mclouththreshingbee.com.