A trip to the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant is always in order following the Iowa State Fair.
I love steam engines and taking a walk back in time and the Old Threshers is always a good experience. Plus, I get to meet and visit with a lot of new people.
This year we (my family and I) spent time going flea marketing, antiquing and touring the museums. I started working on a Old Threshers photo trivia contest that I plan to post on Facebook in the near future. The idea is to see if folks know where the photos were taken. Some will be giveaways and others will be more challenging.
While visiting the Old Threshers Foundation Office, Debbie and I visited with Melinda Huisinga of Mount Pleasant.
Melinda currently serves on the Old Threshers Board. She and her late husband, Alan, who passed earlier this year, worked hard to make the Old Threshers one of the best events in the State of Iowa. Melinda and her family are featured in our 2008 book, “Family Reunion, Midwest Old Threshers.”
Debbie and I knew that Melinda’s Methodist Meat Loaf was an Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon winner. What we didn’t know is that the tasty meat loaf earned the honor at the 2017 ISF in a contest that we sponsored for several years. The contest asked entrants to create a food that would be served at a threshing event back in the day.
The meat loaf, along with some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten, is served daily at the Methodist Church tent on the Old Threshers grounds.
While touring one of the museums on the Old Threshers grounds, I met a fellow from Missouri who struck up a conversation with me. I learned that for about 20 years, he sponsored a farmer’s challenge at the Missouri State Fair. The event was also held for three years at the Iowa State Fair. When asked, he couldn’t remember what years.
I found a video from 2011 showing young people participating in a farmer’s challenge at the ISF. It was similar in nature to Ag Olympics where folks flip tractor tires, drive through an obstacle course using a wheelbarrow and roll a large bale of hay.
I’m not sure it is one in the same, but it’s fun to find out.
I also visited with Kyle Waldeck of Illinois in the stationary steam area on the Old Threshers grounds. Kyle is a yearly volunteer at the reunion and we first met in 2007. A photo I took of Kyle and his mother are featured in our Old Threshers book at the button collector’s forum. The button collector’s forum is held on Sunday morning of the reunion and gives a chance for OT button collectors to talk all things, “buttons” while buying, selling and trading with each other.
The reunion, which was first held in 1950, has produced a collector’s button every year. Some of the older buttons, mainly the 50s, bring $200 - $400 each. I have several from the time period, but not the more expensive ones.
On Monday, I took the electric trolley to the 1856 Log Village on the south edge of the Old Threshers grounds, where I milled around, took a few photos and met some new people.
The log village features volunteers dressed in period clothing, cooking meals over an open fire, spinning yarn, playing musical instruments from the time period and doing things the old -fashioned way. There’s a school, barn, woodworking shop, blacksmith shop and lots of demonstrations and more.
While there, I met a former co-worker at Marengo Publishing who was talking with guests about her and her husband’s team of mules. I shared with them the story of my grandfather using a team of horses to build roads in Oklahoma during the WPA days.
I also visited with a mother and her two daughters who were churning butter the old fashioned way. I remember my mom had a churn and she’d make butter and cream by hand. That brings back a lot of memories.
I met another young lady who grew up in Mount Pleasant but now calls Texas home these days. She was using wedges of various sizes and a sledge hammer to split logs. She was one tough gal who knew how to swing a sledge hammer.
If you’ve never visited the Old Threshers Reunion, I recommend it. It opens on the Wednesday before Labor Day with a horse pull and wraps up five days later. There’s lots to see and do.
It is the small things in life and connections made along the way that make every day a new venture and opportunity.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.