Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Annual festival steps back in time

Three-day threshing bee gets fired up on Friday in McLouth

July 31, 2002

Visitors to the 45th annual McLouth Threshing Bee will be greeted by the sights and sounds of steam engines harvesting wheat and sawing lumber much the same as they did a century ago.

Each trip to the threshing bee is like taking a step back in time.

Near the gate, a steam engine powers a threshing machine that separates the golden grains of wheat from the straw.

Highlights of events planned for the 45th annual McLouth Threshing Bee include:


7 p.m.: Antique classic tractor pull, for tractors made before 1957.

8 p.m. to midnight: Patio dance to the music of Arnie Johnson.


11 a.m.: Kids' pedal tractor pull, for children 3 through 12.

2:30 p.m.: Antique garden tractor pull.

7 p.m.: Hot rod tractor pull.

8 p.m. to midnight: Patio dance/country music. Sunday

9 a.m.: Church service. Bring your own chair and an umbrella for shade.

5 p.m.: Draft horse pull

Other information

Each day, one of the steam engines will thresh wheat at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, and a parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. daily. Other events that continue through the weekend include a petting zoo and children's carnival rides, an antique car show, a display of miniature steam engines, flea market and crafts, and plenty of food to eat. For more information, check out the Web site at:

Nearby, another steam engine powers a sawmill. As onlookers watch, the circular blade screeches as it slices logs into smooth planks of wood.

But the three-day event doesn't just happen. David Schmalstieg, one of the threshing bee's directors, said committees meet yearlong to organize the bee.

As in years past, the weekend focuses on the old-fashioned steam engines, large engines that Schmalstieg describes as "boilers on wheels."

Each steamer, some built as far back as 1910, consists of a firebox that heats water to create steam.

The steam moves the mechanisms that can move the vehicle, or power other equipment.

The threshing bee's organizing committee is hoping for a good turnout from area towns this year.

Last year's attendance was down, Schmalstieg said, because of extremely hot weather.

During an average weekend, he said, the event will brings in from 5,000 to 6,000 people to the community of McLouth.

A big draw this year, Schmalstieg said, should be a hot-rod tractor pull, set for 7 p.m. Saturday.

"Many years ago they had it here and then they dropped it and we're hoping this will be a big item this year," Schmalstieg said.

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