Archive for Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Daughter of event’s founder recalls early years on farm

August 1, 2007

On a Sunday afternoon in 1957 Herman, "Slim" Watson thought it would be a good idea to invite a few people to his farm to watch a threshing demonstration.

It was the start of a 50-year tradition that continues this week as thousands of people visit McLouth for the annual McLouth Threshing Bee. They still come to see antique farm steam engines and threshing machines. But the event includes many other activities, such as tractor and truck pulls and displays of antique tractors and cars.

"He had no idea," Mary Hinds said of her late father. "He was just trying to have fun and have some friends and neighbors over."

Hinds still lives on the farm where it all began east of McLouth in Leavenworth County. The threshing bee continued to be held on the farm for several years into the 1960s until it was moved to its current 40-acre site in McLouth in Jefferson County.

"It got to be too much for the farm to handle," Hinds said.

Hinds still owns the threshing machine but she sold the 1919 steam engine to B.J. Robinson, McLouth. The machines are on display and can be viewed during this year's threshing bee Friday through Sunday.

"It's quite a machine for its day," Robinson said. "It takes a lot of time to operate it."

Robinson is a member of the Heart of America Antique Steam Engine Association, which has five steam engines. Steam engines were replaced by tractors in the 1930s and 1940s on most farms.

Hinds' father, with help from her mother, Myrta, also brought in antique cars for displays. The McLouth Kiwanis Club provided refreshments and worked out of a shed that Slim Watson built. In addition to the big machines, miniature steam engines also could be seen chugging along the farm grounds.

This year's threshing bee kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday with the antique and classic tractor pull. The cost for the three-day event is $10. Children 12 and younger get in free. Beer and food will be sold. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

Here is the weekend schedule:

Friday

7 p.m., antique and classic tractor pull.
8 p.m.-midnight, live band and patio dance.

Saturday

10 a.m., youths' pedal tractor pull, drive-in car show, steam threshing.
11 a.m., garden tractor pull.
1:30 p.m., parade of power.
2 p.m., steam threshing.
7 p.m., Flint Hills Truck Pulling & Outlaw Hotrod/Mini-rod Association Tractor Pull.
8 p.m.-midnight, live band and patio dance.

Sunday

9 a.m., church services.
1 p.m., ATV pull.
7 p.m., OTTPA Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pull.

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