WCTA History

 

Will County Threshermen's AssociationIn August of 1963, Ray Kestel originated a yearly threshing bee on the Ed Kestel farm in Will County, Illinois. In subsequent years, the show was held at the Ray Kestel farm three miles south of New Lenox. On February 15, 1966, Ray called a meeting to propose that an organization be formed to support the annual show celebrating old-time agricultural methods. The forty-five men in attendance approved Ray's plan, and the Will County Threshermen's Association was born. Ray served as the club's president for its first five years. The organization's purpose is to honor and preserve America's agricultural legacy. It is especially appropriate that Will County host such an association, for a significant chapter in American history took place there.

The Will County Threshermen's Association continues to commemorate America's agricultural heritage by sponsoring an annual show. Long-time friends of the organization remember that, in its early years, the show took place at the Fred Francis 4-H Field in New Lenox. At the fourth annual show, twenty-five acres of oats were fed through a steam-powered thresher while plowing with oxen, horses, and steam engines made history come to life. An ad promised ten steam engines, thirty gasoline tractors, twenty-five gasoline engines, and fifteen antique automobiles. By the 1970s, the show had grown and moved to the Peotone Fairgrounds. Later, it moved to Burns Woods, and in 2004, to the Dollinger Farm. In 2013 & 2014 the Show was held at the Historic Round Barn Farm located in Manhattan, Illinois, in the area where it had first begun.  The Association then decided to return to hosting the Show on a local Will County Farm in an effort to save money and begin planning for “A Home of Our Own”.  The 2015 show never got off the ground as the location was too wet to set-up due to unusual rains.  The 2016 & 2017 shows were hosted at the Kestel's farm south of Frankfort. In 2018 the show moved to the Spiess Farm, west of Wilton Center on US52 where it presently remains. Our 58th show, for 2020, was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID Pandemic.

In 2014, the Will County Threshermen's Association became a 501(c)(3) organization.

 
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