The gas engine area at the Reunion had a record breaking 928 engines on display providing visitors with a first hand example of how gas engines were used as power sources both on the farm and in small businesses.
Midwest Old Threshers Threshers Road, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 52641, Photos by Jim Adams.
The 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was among the biggest events in the history of the Association, recording the second highest attendance figures of the past decade.
Rains which fell during the event, failed to dampen the spirit of those attending or cancel scheduled events. It was the first reunion for several years to have all five Cavalcades of Power, along with both tractor pulls and the horse pull.
Tanya Tucker, scheduled to perform on Sunday evening, was forced to cancel her appearance in Mt. Pleasant for health related reasons. The Don Romeo Agency from Omaha, Nebraska found . replacement acts for Tucker and provided excellent shows for the reunion visitors.
'By-and-large the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion was one of the smoothest events ever held,' said Lennis Moore, the organization's administrator. 'The Board of Directors did an excellent job of planning for this event and every one of them had their responsibilities well coordinated. In addition, our volunteers turned out in force to complete every task efficiently and with great expertise.'
The Case Expo also had a very positive impact on the 1991 Old Threshers Reunion. Held in conjunction with the Reunion, the Expo was the fifth annual meeting of the International J. I. Case Heritage Foundation. The Expo was placed east of the tractor area in a large tent with a backdrop of over 60 flags representing the fifty states, twelve Canadian provinces, and five foreign countries. The area was always filled with people and there were excellent exhibits of steam engines, tractors, Case cars, and related memorabilia.
Unfortunately, Helen Case Brigham and her husband, Arthur, were unable to attend the Expo. Arthur underwent emergency surgery just prior to the Reunion. 'We were all very disappointed that Helen (great-granddaughter of J. I. Case) could not be with us for the Reunion,' Moore said.
Case Expo people stepped in at the last minute to coordinate the on-site operations for the Expo: The John Fry's, Kenneth Kelly's, and Chady Atteberry's all pitched in and did a wonderful job. (Note: Although Arthur Brigham's surgery was successful and he spent several months at home undergoing therapy, he did pass away on January 22.)
All exhibitor areas saw increases in the number of exhibited units and the quality of machines on display. The traction steam area contained one of the best collections of Case engines ever assembled at Mt. Pleasant. One of the main attractions in the steam area was the center crank Case owned by Midwest Old Threshers and totally restored by Director Wayne Kennedy and some dedicated volunteers. Kennedy was at the throttle for the Cavalcade of Power opening day of the Reunion and was presented a plaque to be mounted on the engine. The plaque designated the engine as one of the many projects funded by the Old Threshers Foundation. Kennedy was also commended for his hard work over the past two years involved with completing the project.
The tractor area exhibited 375 antique tractors all of which were of the 1939 unstyled or older vintage. The Case Expo did increase the number of Case tractors exhibited, but there were several other brands that also were brought to Mt. Pleasant. The two antique tractor pulls played to excellent crowds of people who enjoyed watching the old tractors show off their power. In addition to the tractors, several steam engines and engine models pulled for the enjoyment of the audience. Tractor Director Elmer Geigle and Steam Director Mike Parker did an excellent job of coordinating their areas and working with the Case Expo people.
Members of the S. E. Iowa Antique Car Club continued their long tradition of showing excellent cars and trucks. Antique cars provided transportation on the main grounds for several special events, including the Old Threshers Awards, the 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, and the Sweet 16 Recognition Ceremony. The club has always been known as a 'working' club in that the cars are not strictly 'show' cars, but are taken out and driven by the owners. Members of the club added to the tractor pull festivities by dismantling and then rebuilding a Ford Model T in less than thirty minutes.
The gas engine area featured Sandwich engines made by Sandwich Manufacturing Company in Sandwich, Illinois. Records show that 24 featured engines were displayed, and out of a total of 928 gas engines shown at the 1991 Reunion. The gas engine area continues to attract exhibitors with good quality, restored engines in excellent running condition. The Power House and Wood Shop displays continue to be excellent exhibits in the gas engine area, providing the visitors with a first hand example of how gas engines were used as power sources both on the farm and in small businesses.
Volunteers of the Midwest Electric Railway did an excellent job shuttling Reunion visitors in and out of the campgrounds. Ridership for the trolley operation was well above previous years despite the fact that one of the trolley cars was out of service for an entire day. The trolley cars provide the major conveyance for visitors to reach the Log Village. The Log Village is populated by the members of Explorer Post 1846 and its adult advisors. The Post members provide a living history experience for Reunion visitors as they portray historic Iowa of the 1840's.
Post members give Reunion goers the opportunity to experience the clothing, food, crafts, mannerisms, and entertainment of a bygone time.
Crafts areas coordinated by Gladys and Clark Burns and Harrison Moore provided visitors with an excellent opportunity to watch skilled craftspeople demonstrate their expertise. Visitors could also purchase these fine crafts as well as many high quality antiques available for sale in the Antique Building.
Most of the more than twenty church and civic organizations serving food at the Old Threshers event reported record sales. For most Reunion visitors, no visit would be complete without a stop at their favorite food stand. The church and civic organizations earn a significant amount of money from these food operations.
Another aspect of the Old Threshers Reunion that doesn't go unnoticed is the free entertainment found around the main grounds. All of the free acts are booked by a volunteer committee coordinated by Roberta Callaway, including the Wednesday Bluegrass Festival.
'Yes, the 1991 Reunion was one of the smoothest that I can remember,' repeated Lennis Moore. 'The entire Reunion was well run by the Association's Board of Directors, staff and volunteers. People dedicated to making the Old Threshers Reunion the best event possible. People doing what they do because they enjoy it, and allowing that enjoyment to transfer to the Reunion visitors,' Moore concluded. 'Our volunteers truly make this event a Reunion in every sense of the word; a place people can always come home to!'