The Pioneer Power Threshing Show in Hanley Falls moves into its 36th year of showing off tractors and engines of the past on the grounds of the Minnesota Machinery Museum next weekend.
"It's reminiscing of the past," said Alan Gustafson, a planner of the threshing show. "It's how things were done years ago."
Each year the show is organized by the Pioneer Power Association, a group of area farmers dedicated to preserving the history of farming and sharing that history, along with their restored tractors and engines, with others.
Color photos by Phillip Bock; black-and-white photos submitted; Illustration by Aaron Schlemmer
The color photos show some of the old-time machinery stored at the Minnesota Machinery Museum. All of the machines are restored and maintained throughout the year.
The first Pioneer Power threshing shows were held on farms during the late 1970s. Farmer Vernon Ellingson said he remembers when it was held on his farm in 1979. A lot has changed with the show since then.
"When it was at my place it only had six or seven tractors out there," Ellingson said. "Now we have, on average, about 100 of these old-style engines."
In 1978 Pioneer Power members requested that an agricultural museum be established in Hanley Falls. The Yellow Medicine County commission at the time agreed and purchased land in Hanley falls to be used for the museum.
The "Yellow Medicine County Agricultural and Transportation Museum" opened in 1980, and the threshing show show has been held there ever since.
Though the name of the museum has changed since then, it remains committed to hosting the annual show - a task that has grown more complex over the years.
"You can count the whole month of July for getting ready for it," Gustafson said. "We pull the machines out of the shed and get them ready."
"Don't forget about the fence, that's a big one," Ellingson said.
During the show several of the old-time tractors will be put to work to demonstrate the farming techniques of the "good old days."
"Basically anything before electricity," Gustafson said. "We keep them maintained to keep them running."
Pioneer Power members planted a few acres of grain north of town to be used during the show.
"We cut the grain a week or so before the show. Then we shock it with a grain binder," Gustafson said. "We run them through the threshing machine at the show."
Each year Pioneer Power members decide on a different tractor type and engine to feature at the show. This year, Massey-Harris-Ferguson tractors and Canadian-built engines are being featured, but the show is not limited to those types.
"All other models of tractors and engines are welcome, too," Gustafson said.
There will be hundreds of engines dating back to the early 1900s on display during the show, many of them still running.
"The operation is important. It's not just a picture, it's actually working," Arnold Zempel, a Pioneer Power member, said.
"There is one in the shed that goes back to 1890," Ellingson said. "It will run during the show."
Members of Pioneer Power take their tractor restoration seriously. The group was formed as a way to share their passion for preserving the history of farming.
"It is just something that we do," Gustafson said. "It is a hobby a lot of people do to get the machinery running again."
Opinions differ on how to go about restoring the old machines, so the show will feature a wide variety of fixed up old-time tractors.
"There are some people who call restoring just a paint job," Ellingson said. "But I call restoring gutting it right down to the bearings."
Tractors are not the only thing on display at the show this year. The museum also features a classic car museum and a handmade quilt display.
"There's still guys that will bring Model Ts," Gustafson said, "and people have some old trucks."
Three unique tractor pulls will be featured over the weekend. On Saturday drivers 15 and older can register to be in the antique tractor pull. The pull features tractors from the pre-1960 era. For those under 15, Sunday features a pedal tractor pull at 10 a.m. A garden tractor pull will also be at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The antique tractors will make their way through Hanley Falls during the parade being featured both days at 1:30 p.m.
"Well probably run through 100 tractors in that parade and 20 to 30 cars," Ellingson said.
Demonstrations in everything from rug weaving to rope making will also be performed during the show. The popular blacksmith demonstrations will be back this year as well.
"In the past someone has brought in a horse and they'll shoe it," Ellingson said.
Daily admission is $6 for adults and ages 12 and under get in free.