Tractor and binder used to cut oats during the show.

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2004 48th St. N.E. Rochester, Minnesota 55906

If I had a scrub board and homemade soap, I would do all our laundry,' Andrew told his mother. Then he added, 'Except when it's below zero.' Nine year-old Andrew had just finished with his turn washing clothes. Nearby, four year old Ben and ten-year-old Colleen took turns as they turned the handle on a glass churn. It took them only ten minutes to turn heavy whipping cream into butter. This wasn't a new type of school. It was the Mechanical History and Threshing Show at Rochester, Minnesota, where there's plenty for everyone to see and do. Other hands-on experiences included shelling corn with a small hand shelter, and then grinding corn into meal. When the children had finished their 'chores,' there was time for old-fashioned games.

The saw mill was a favorite attraction for the spectators watching huge logs become usable lumber. Saw milling was hard work for those who ran the mills in the early 1900s. However, for this two day show, all the workers did it cheerfully. Modern-day gloves and hearing protection certainly added to their comfort.

Gas engine buffs brought their prized engines. Some were being used to depict how they were used on labor saving jobs in the early part of the century. There were gas engines on washing machines, corn shelters, and grinders. Of course, the rock crusher, water pump, paddle elevator, and drag saw were also powered by gas engines.

The blacksmith had one of the hottest jobs. It was also one of the hottest attractions. He fashioned horseshoes from raw material.

A Parade of Power was held each day. The announcer told about each tractor, truck, or car as it was driven past the reviewing stand. The crowd was impressed with the restoration jobs some had done. The parade included an antique road roller, as well as some unusual homemade tractors.

Berry boxes made from bass wood were stapled on a unique machine. The old-time machine did an excellent job of feeding the wire. Soon the boxes were ready for berry picking.

Some people enjoyed going into the museum to see collections, including items relating to the Mayo Clinic. The air-conditioned building felt cool after being out where the men were harvesting the oats, and plowing with an old tractor and gang plow. The grain was cut with a vintage binder. There was also that awesome feat: the threshing of the grain. Although threshing occurred throughout the show, the grand finale was three threshing machines or separators running simultaneously.

As the show came to a close, the tractor pullers went home with trophies, each exhibitor had a plaque, the old-timers had been able to reminisce, and the younger generation had received an educational experience. Those of us who sponsored and put on the show had worked together like one big happy family. After cleaning up the grounds, there was only one thing to do; start planning next year's show. So, on July 27 and 28, 1996, we'll have the 22nd annual Mechanical History and Threshing Show.