Box 156, Cumberland, Iowa 50843
What is this show, this reunion, that has come forward on flying feet for 30 years. Why do upwards of 250,000 people invade the small town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa every year, Labor Day weekend, Thursday thru Monday? Why, if you go once do you feel you must go back, to endure the crowds, the mud, the heat and smoke?
Since 1950, when 15 steam engines and 8 threshing machines were viewed by 10,000 spectators, the show has grown into a giant display of living, breathing, American history attended by great numbers of people from across the United States and many foreign countries.
Whatever your interest in the past might be, it is there at Old Threshers for you, and you can participate. Ride the vintage trolleys around the 40-acre campgrounds, and visit the log village. Take a trip on the Midwest Central Railroad to the Midwest Village. While at Midwest Village stop at the general store for an old time dill pickle on a stick, or stick candy, or cheese and crackers. Go on past the popcorn stand and into the tavern. Belly up to the bar and have some sweet cider, watch a girlie show and listen to the clop of horses' hoves as buggies pass thru on Main Street. Revisit country school while it's in session, or attend one of three churches for some moments of quiet reflection. If you like the theatre you can attend the Toby show, a chautugua or the Museum of Repertoire America. Get your tickets early for the Country Western show each night in the grandstand. Such names as Dolly Parton, The Statler Brothers and Charlie Pride have played to packed houses.
The great machines of years gone by are really the stars of the show and you can sit in the grandstand all afternoon and watch them pass in review. Over 100 old cars, 60 steam engines and 150 gas tractors are on the grounds for your enjoyment. A short trip by ground train will take you to the Heritage Museum where the big stationary engines are housed. The big Allis Chalmers Corliss sits in black splendor at one end of the museum, it's 14' flywheel slowly turning. Many other smaller stationary steam engines run close by, their governors moving slowly, their restored framework glistening with new paint and striping.
Outside the museum is steam engine row. From Old Threshers giant 110 HP Case towering 15 feet in the air down to the smallest model all of them steam up every day for the Calvalcade of Power and pass in stately review in front of the grandstand crowds.
Wilbur Ries, Murray, Iowa, at his 29th Reunion. Wilbur was one of the first to display gas engines at Old Threshers.
If you happen to be an old tractor fan a trip to the tractor area will gladden your heart. Climb up on the big 30-60 Aultman Taylor or Twin City and look out at the rows of Oil Pulls, John Deeres, Allis Chalmers, and Internationals. Avery, Hart Parr, Moline, Universal, Bullock Creeping Grip and the rare LaCrosse rein drive tractor have been visitors to the tractor display area. This years tractor display had a special visitor. Miss Cass Bowyer, the grand-daughter of the founder of the Rumley Tractor Company visited the reunion and drove one of Brubaker's Oil Pulls in the Cavalcade of Power.
The gas engine display area has grown from only a handful displayed at the early reunions to nearly 450 at this year's reunion. The gas engine and tractor swap tent is a very busy place with standing room only. Large crowds inching along the tables of parts and along the rows of engines and tractor wheels outside the tent. A new and very nice display this year is the farm powerhouse. With sides that remove for display to spectators, it is a welcome addition to the show. A 5 HP Economy engine drives the line shaft that operates everything from an old bread crummier to a butter churn.
Perhaps the spirit of the reunion can best be illustrated by the many people who continue to return year after year. One of these people is Wilbur Ries of Murray, Iowa. Wilbur was one of the first to display a gas engine and he has been back every year for 29 years. Any of you who have the March-April 1966 GEM, look on page 6 to see Wilbur at one of the early shows. Wilbur has continued to come back every year in spite of some health problems that almost kept him away a couple of times. Mainly, Old Threshers is just what the name says, a reunion. Not just a show, but a meeting of friends, and a visit with the past.