The LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its show on August 28-30, 1998. The Pioneer Power Association began as the boyhood dream of Dave Preuhs. In August of 1974, Dave Preuhs hosted a neighborhood threshing bee on his farm in Tyrone township in LeSueur County, Minnesota. The public was invited and refreshments were served. Exhibits at this threshing bee included a 1926 John Deere D, 1927 John Deere D, and a 1929 model AA Ford truck.
Field demonstrations at the threshing bee were limited to operation of a Nichols and Shepard 28 x 46 Red River Special thresher. Nonetheless, it was this field demonstration that captured the imagination of the thirty people from the immediate neighborhood who were in attendance at the threshing bee, and so started the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show.
The neighbors who had attended the 1974 event all agreed that the threshing bee should be repeated the next year in 1975. Consequently, the 1975 bee was held on the neighboring Edwin Reddemann farm. This time, the threshing bee was advertised in local newspapers and by means of Xeroxed leaflets. In preparation for the 1975 threshing bee, some of the neighbors built a grain stack from bundles of oats. In recent memory, this was the first year that grain was threshed from a stack. The 40-60 persons in attendance were treated to the threshing demonstration along with a small exhibit of several antique tractors and a few stationary gas engines.
Adopting the name 'Dresselville-Tyrone Threshers' for the first time, the 1976 threshing bee was moved back to the Preuhs farm located on the southern boundary of Tyrone township.
Dresselville was the name of an old community located southwest of the Preuhs farm. Although Dresselville was largely a memory by 1976, the unincorporated village had at one time consisted of a school, church, post office, and creamery. The 1976 Dresselville-Tyrone Threshing Bee was advertised by means of a limited number of posters which were circulated locally. About 100 people attended the August 8,1976 threshing bee. The crowd was treated to the first appearance of the 45-65 Avery tractor owned by the Budenski Brothers of West Concord, Minnesota. The Budenski Brothers also brought along their eight bottom John Deere, platform plow. The 1976 show saw the first appearance of corn shredding and plowing as field demonstrations. In addition, Orbe Reddemann of rural LeCenter operated his Ottawa crosscut log saw for the first time. In all, 15 tractors, 20 stationary gas engines, and four antique cars and trucks were exhibited. A donation box was used to collect contributions from those in attendance.
Finally, on March 1,1977, seventeen neighbors interested in the Dresselville/Tyrone Threshing Bee met in the farm shop on the Eldon Brown farm, and decided to incorporate into a nonprofit association. Upon the suggestion of Ivan Guertin, that association was named the 'The LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association.' It was thought that the new name would enlarge the appeal of the association beyond the immediate Dresselville/Tyrone area to all of LeSueur County. Little did the founders realize the association would soon have national appeal. At the founding meeting of the association, Dave Preuhs was elected president; Elden Braun, vice president; Ivan Guertin, secretary; and Bill Thelemann, treasurer. Also elected as members of the board were Frank Boehne, Ken Braun, John Pollack, Brian Guertin , Glen Braun, and Wayne Schwartz. The last full weekend in August was picked for the permanent show date.
The 1977 and 1978 shows were still held at the Preuhs farm. The show was now being advertised in several antique tractor and gas engine magazines. Membership grew at a steady rate and along with new members came a variety of new exhibits and the show began to grow in size. On the last Sunday in April, 1978 the LSCPPA held its first swap meet on the grounds of the Le-Sueur County Fair, in LeCenter, Minnesota.
With the tremendous growth, it was clear that the show had outgrown the Preuhs farm. Accordingly, a 20 year lease agreement was made with Erwin Dahn, a local farmer, to rent his large wooded grove about two miles south of the Preuhs farm as the new permanent site for the show. In preparation for the 1979 show, members cleared brush, leveled stump piles, and constructed loading docks near the main entrance to the new grounds. Additionally, a building was constructed on the grounds by members with Orbe Reddemann acting as chief engineer. This building became known as 'Orbes Eat Shack,' serving food to the people beginning with the 1979 show. Another building was erected in December of 1979. The dimensions of this building are 40 x 120 feet. It became the first of a number of buildings to be erected on the new grounds to be used for storage in the off-season, and then used for exhibits during the show.
During the 1980s Pioneer Power grew in all areas, including members, exhibitors, and of expanding and improving the showgrounds. Many buildings were built or moved in, such as Dresselville Creamery, food service, blacksmith shop, horse barns, log cabin, children's barnyard, miniature land, and other various display and exhibit buildings. An 1890 sawmill was restored and erected on the grounds in 1982 with a new building over it for the 1983 show. Several large stationary steam engines have been moved to the grounds and installed in the steam building (most engines were installed first and then a roof put over them), with the first one up and running for the 1986 show. The Minnesota State horse plowing contest was held at the grounds in September of 1988.
The Swap Meet was growing steadily during this period of time also, in fact, it grew to the point that the fairgrounds in LeCenter was getting overcrowded. So, in 1991, the Swap Meet was held at the LSCPPA showgrounds for the first time. In 1997 the Swap Meet hosted over 700 vendors and has become one of the biggest, if not the largest meet of its kind in the U.S.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s tractor shows started featuring a certain brand of tractor at their annual summer show. This period of time saw the birth of several national one brand tractor clubs, such as the J.I. Case Collectors, M-M Collectors, etc. In 1991 the LSCPPA hosted the J.I. Case collectors summer collection. Since that first feature the list of features are as follows: 1992 Tractor Hall of Fame-all tractors; 1993 Central Minnesota Two Cylinder Club-John Deere; 1994 'Gathering of the Orange' (West) A-C collectors; 1995 Scale models and Miniatureland; 1996 double feature year, Historical Construction Equipment Association and Minnesota State IHC Collectors; 1997 M-M Collectors Club, upcoming features include for 1999 the National Ford/Fordson Collectors; and for 2000 the International Hart-Parr/Oliver Collectors Association.
1998 will be a special celebration with displays and exhibits set up from the 1974 show up through 1998 in a year-by-year display. Also, a reenactment of the first threshing bee will be staged, using the same machines and people who were there in 1974. Another special treat for the 1998 show will be a superb display of Packard cars hosted by the Minnesota Packard Car Club; and on those same lines, the Hiawathaland Chapter of A.T.H.S. will show off their collection of antique trucks.
Pioneer Power now includes 103 acres of club-owned property with a deep well and water system, electricity, phone and over 25 buildings used for display purposes, or for administration or food service.
Pioneer Power started out with the one threshing event and continues to be a working show, whether it be threshing, (at times up to four machines are working at once), or all the other field events such as plowing, shredding, cutting corn, etc., or too, the sawmill and woodworking events like the lathe and shingle mills or veneer mill.
All attractions at the show are intended to hold the interest of the people coming through the gate. Pioneer Power is grateful for people attending the show and also thankful for the exhibitors who help make the show possible. All exhibits receive free admission and plaques.
Pioneer Power continues to be a viable and healthy organization. All proceeds go directly back into the show for maintenance of the grounds and to establish new projects to help educate people on the history of agriculture and small-town commerce. Five hundred members, from all walks of life, belong to Pioneer Power, and with their efforts as much progress can be made in the next 25 years as in the past 25 years.