Archive for Wednesday, July 26, 2000

McLouth gears up for 43rd annual harvest festival

July 26, 2000

For most area farmers, this year's wheat harvest is nearly complete.

But for those who are planning this year's 43rd annual threshing bee, harvest has only just begun.

Doug McQuitty, a director of the Steam Engine Show and Threshing Bee, slated for Aug. 4-6, said the five acres of wheat, cut and bundled in May, soon will be ready for threshing.

That's threshing the old-fashioned way.

Or, as B.J. Robinson, president of the association, and owner of a 1919 Advance Rumley used during the threshing bee, put it:

"It's history. What we are striving for is to preserve history so that the younger generation can get an actual demonstration with the live machines."

For three days in August, McQuitty, who serves as thresherman in charge, will fire up his 1910 Advance and show how to operate a steam-engine powered threshing machine.

"The biggest challenge is maintaining a steady pressure," said McQuitty, who grew up on a Minnesota farm. "That's the art of maintaining a good bed of coals and a fire to maintain pressure."

If the pressure's too high it will lift the safety valve and if it's too low, there won't be enough horsepower to operate the equipment at the proper speed.

The three steam-engine powered threshing machines used at the event run on fires fueled by Oklahoma coal or by chunks of hedge trees culled locally.

"We always have at least one engine burning coal," McQuitty said. "That coal smell brings a lot of memories back to the senior citizens who've been around these things they really like it.

"Young people will look at that and wonder what's going on in the inside how does it remove the grain from the stem of the wheat stock without shattering or breaking it."

This was the make-it-or-break-it sign of a good thresherman, McQuitty said.

"The way they judged a thresherman was how much grain would be blown into the straw pile there should be absolutely none," he said. "If the thresherman had his threshers adjusted properly, they'd have starved roosters in the barnyard after he left because there'd be no grain for them to clean up."

Other events and demonstrations included are a mini hot rod pull, dances, pedal tractor pull, draft horse pull, antique tractor pulls, antique car show, blacksmith shop, Sunday church service, miniature steam engines, straw baler, sawmill, children's rides, petting zoo, flea market, antiques, crafts, food and airplane rides.

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