Farming ‘back in the day’
ALBERT CITY – What began as a small backyard event to show the younger generation the way farming used to be “back in the day” has turned into a show that now boasts 70 acres, 14,000 attendees, 300 to 400 volunteers and national media attention.
The Albert City Threshermen and Collectors Show features a different brand of tractor each year. International Harvester being the featured tractor in the shows 43rd year, which ran Aug. 9 through 11.
Some much-needed rain fell on the grounds Sunday morning, dampening some field demonstrations, but not the spirits of farm families who attended.
Connie Reinert, one of the directors on the Threshermen and Collectors Board, said “Saturday was wild,” because the parking area filled to capacity and resorted to overflow parking. There were 8,000 attendees on Saturday alone, Reinert said.
One of the most popular new events this year was One Year of Farming in 60 Minutes, where demonstrators showed attendees about tillage and plowing, up through harvesting with machines of yesterday.
“We had all kinds of old implements – a small disk, a box-end seeder and a two-row planter,” Reinert said. “We had binders, two different kinds of old combines and an old square baler.
“People were wondering if that’s what bales really used to look like.”
Another popular attraction was the Civil War encampment, meant to show people that the farm still needed to continue on after the men left for the war.
“It was a great attraction. The people were dressed in that time period and were cooking over open campfires, and it was meant to show that the Civil War did impact us – every farm family – because the farming still had to go on at home even when the men were off to war.
“We were really proud to have that here this year,” Reinert said.
She added that planning for this kind of event is a year-round process, the bulk done during the winter. In spring, she said, the grounds begin to awaken with anticipation for the annual August show.
“At that time we plant potatoes (for the children’s potato dig),” Reinert said, “24 acres of wheat and some corn.
“We have all the activities going on that all farmers have going on, plus we have buildings to maintain. It’s all done with volunteers.”
Reinert said volunteers come from “all over,” and they’re there each year because they love the show’s reunions.
“They’re passionate about the show itself and about their love of this period in history,” Reinert said. “Two men started this show to explain the ways that agriculture has changed, and it’s grown every year.”
Reinert said there are other working shows like this around the state – Mount Pleasant, Osage and Charles City – and all are good shows, she said.
The compliments she hears most from visitors concerning the Albert City show is they appreciate it’s not static, like a car show, where machines are parked and not moved.
Instead there are field demonstrations and visitors can get a little hands-on experience in some areas.
“Ours is a growing show,” Reinert said. “There are shows around that are dwindling, but ours seems to be growing stil.”
She said most of the machinery used at the show comes from a 70- to 80 -mile radius.
Reinert said it’s an exciting time each year as show time approaches, when she gets what she calls her “farming fix.”
“I grew up on the farm and couldn’t wait to get away from it,” she said. “Now this is my chance to be involved in something like this.
“I guess I appreciate it more now.”
Reinert said the show is about a simpler time, while demonstrating how hard farmers worked in the days of horse-drawn implements, steel-wheeled tractors and threshing machines operated by large steam engines and the sweat of the brow.
“It’s exciting,” Reinert said, “and (our volunteers are) all on the fast track when it’s going on, but we love it.
“It’s rewarding, and we’re here doing it, and people seem to appreciate it. That’s what we’re here for.”
Katy Ward, 14, attended from Belle Plaine. She enjoyed seeing draft horses and the harnessing process, and rode a wagon or two that were pulled by horses.
She said she saw first-hand what the threshing process was about and got hands-on experience in climbing into a wire corn crib, grabbing a shovel and scooping picked corn into the drag way that went into the corn sheller.
“I learned how (farmers) used to do it,” Ward said. “I never knew how they shelled corn, how it went into the sheller or how they got the corn out of the crib. It was a lot more work back then.”
LeRoy Heese said he came from Defiance to watch the show, as he has done for many years. He said watching the corn shelling made him miss the job just a little. He said watching the threshing machine brought back memories.
“I used to drive the tractor for the person who threw the bundles on the machine,” he said, adding that he was too young to toss the bundles at the time. “Dad was one of the first in our neighborhood to buy a Case pull-type combine back around 1951 or 1952, and the threshing kind of ended after that.”
Heese said that although he never had to thresh when he began farming on his own, it helps him remember the hard work his father did to keep the farm running.
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