Kids participate in threshing bee’s traditions
As always, the McLouth Threshing Bee drew interest and involvement of fans, young and old.
In fact, this year's show its 45th installment saw a record attendance on Saturday, said Melinda Farr, threshing bee secretary.
"Saturday was our biggest day with the hot rod tractor pull and it brought in a real good attendance," Farr said.
She estimated the total number of weekend threshing bee fans, participants and volunteers at about 5,500.
One of the participants, Gelia Gardner, 11, drove a 1946 tractor five miles into McLouth Friday morning.
Hitched to the tractor was an old wooden trailer filled with bundles of golden stalks of wheat that would be run through the threshing machine at the bee. Her great-grandfather, Wilbur Johnson, originally owned the tractor.
Also on Friday, Gelia's sister, Neva Gardner, 15, steered a 1943 Farmhand through the threshing bee parade. The tractor was originally owned by her great-great-grandfather, Charlie Johnson.
The biggest challenge, she said was steering: "There's no power steering, so I had to be careful."
Gelia, who is too young to have a driver's license, beamed after driving the tractor Friday.
"I like to drive it," she said. "It's fun because that's the only thing I get to drive besides the lawnmower."
Her trip to town was a success, she said.
"When we were driving up, I only lost four bundles of wheat," Gelia said. "My sister and mom were driving behind me so they stopped and picked them up."
Nearby, Devin Carey, 9, drove a 1924 Wallis tractor in the parade, assisted by his grandfather, George Mathews. Devin lives in Lecompton and Mathews live at Lake Dabinawa. Afterward they took a seat in the shade and watched the steam engine powering a threshing machine, before moseying over to watch the action at the steam-powered sawmill.
Devin took a seat on the stump of a log, propped his chin in his elbows, and from the shade of the wide brim of his straw hat watched the wood as the saw blade ripped through it.
Devin seems to have a natural interest in the old machinery, Mathews said.
"Devin takes a lot of interest in it, as I do," Mathews said. "I appreciate that it's kind of a fun thing to do and of course grandpas do whatever their grandchildren like to do."
Farr said future threshing bee plans include extra public events at the association's 40-acre tract on the edge of McLouth. A demolition derby will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, and a mud-a-thon at 6 p.m. Sept. 21. These events provide entertainment for area residents, as well as raise funds for the threshing bee, Farr said.
But, the bee couldn't operate without the volunteer help and the participants themselves, she said.
"We have about 60 members that volunteer during the year and at the show to help get everything organized, take care of the activities during the show, plus there's the extra volunteer help," Farr said. "I just really want to stress how important the volunteer people are and how much we appreciate them."