Show History

 

Those who attend the Will County Threshermen's Association Show can expect to be transported back to yesteryear. Steam engines, antique gasoline tractors, gas engines, antique automobiles, and other machines provide a working testimonial to the genius of previous generations.

A typical day on the show grounds begins with the clank of scoops. Like their historic counterparts, today's engineers are building coal fires in the fireboxes of their steam engines. Soon, smoke is trailing skyward from a dozen smokestacks. One by one, engineers turn on their blowers, and the hiss of steam assists the draft. Before long, iron flywheels revolve, and the first engine chuffs forward from its berth in the overnight line-up. Its great driver wheels carry the steamer softly across the turf.

Perhaps the engine is going toward the water wagon or the coal pile, but it may be ready to belt to the fan that tests the engine's power or to the sawmill. In the vicinity of the parade route are antique automobiles glistening in the early sunshine. Their owners have ensured that not so much as a fingerprint mars the waxed surfaces of their vehicles. Further on stand the concessions with the aroma of coffee drifting on the morning breeze. In the shade of venerable oaks rest gasoline engines of every size, color, and description. Within the hour,several of them will contribute their snappy exhausts to the symphony of sound.

The vendors in the flea market are carefully lifting the plastic sheets that have covered and protected their wares overnight. They greet passersby with friendly conversation. Along the sloping hills stand row on row of antique tractors. Most are gasoline fired, but a few burn kerosene. The tractors comprise an open-air museum of working machines. In a few hours, many of them will take part in the tractor pull. Many also will demonstrate plowing in a field close by.

Nearby, an Avery Yellow Fellow thresher and at least one other separator stand by, ready for their crews to arrive. When a proud steam engine is belted to the Yellow Fellow, thus powering it, the pitchers toss bundles of wheat into the thresher's mouth, the straw rains down from the windstacker, and the clean grain pours into a wagon. Spectators are treated to a memorable scene.

The nearby corn sheller portrays another important facet of America's agricultural past. By the time the steam engines blow their whistles to announce that it is the noon hour, the showgrounds are alive with motion. Horses pull wagons loaded with families. In the shade of the oaks, people gather to eat lunch (available on the grounds) while all around them are the sights and sounds of another era--an epoch that nostalgic writers term "the good ol' days."

After the parading, the threshing, the corn shelling, the saw milling, the tractor pulling, and the plowing, the day settles gently into evening. Possibly a steam engine will conclude the festivities by burning sawdust while working on the fan, thereby providing a spark display at dusk.

The Will County Threshermen's Association is pleased to present four full days of such entertainment with lasting educational value for all. The show is small enough to offer a friendly, stress-free atmosphere while large enough to provide a comprehensive view of America's rural legacy.

 

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