Threshers didn't lose steam despite the heat
Steam thresher enthusiast Wally Biernack and his border collie, Diesel, came all the way from Canada to attend the Darke County Steam Thresher Days held June 28 — July 1.
Biernack brought with him his 1914 Case Quarter Scale traction engine. Biernack, who is vice president of the Case Heritage Foundation, said he has been attending the Darke County reunion for at least 10 years, and noted that it is one of the 20 shows he attends a year.
“This is a nice show,” he said. “You won’t find any nicer grounds. These are a good bunch of people up here, too.”
The show featured Advance steam engines, Cockshutt tractors and Hercules stationary engines.
Visitors saw displays of antique, full-size steam engines, scale steam engines, tractors and stationary engines. In addition, they had an opportunity to see some of these machines in use. Four new engines were on display this year, coming in from Bluffton, Ind., Versailles, Trotwood and Brookville.
Featured exhibitors demonstrated the various stages wheat goes through to be prepared for use. They start with harvesting which includes cutting and bundling and next move on to threshing and separating. All these processes are done using antique machinery.
There also are flea market vendors located throughout York Woods, holding to the old-time feeling of the event.
Despite the heat, vendors showed up from North Carolina to Darke County, selling merchandise ranging from antique tools to children’s toys and handmade blankets. Many vendors had to shut down when storms hit, however, and lost valuable business hours.
One food vendor was able to continue supplying the hungry people even after the Steam Threshers lost electricity, stating that it was great being able to continue serving people despite the lack of electricity; she cooked ribeye steaks and hamburgers for the hungry customers after the power was taken out by the strong storm on June 29.
Because of the storms, the events for Friday evening also were canceled. Much of the grounds already were dried up by Saturday afternoon, but the rains made it possible to successfully demonstrate some binding skills with barley.
When the storm hit that Friday afternoon, the Darke County Steam Threshers Association trustees went into emergency mode, said Dave Gibson, vice president of the association.
“When we heard about the storm warnings, we got out and helped everyone get their things under cover and made sure everyone got to shelter,” Gibson said.
“I think it’s great for kids today to get to see how things used to work,” said a local vendor from Ansonia, Mary Jane Edwards. “They get to see how our forefathers brought in crops.”
Galen Henderson, who lives outside of Greenville, has been coming to the Steam Threshers since he was a child, when he went with his father. He and his wife, Phyllis, became flea market vendors to get rid of the stuff they’d accumulated over the years, he shared.
“It’s like going to a reunion,” Henderson said. “You get to see people you only see once a year.”
Kristi Price, a vendor from outside of North Star, shared that this was her first year as a vendor. Her husband, she said, collects cards, and that was the catalyst for deciding to become a vendor. They have been coming to the Steam Threshers for more than 15 years, and Price’s in-laws have an engine at the event. The whole family pitched in for the goods, with Price’s daughters contributing movies, toys and bracelets they made themselves. They even decided to do a duck game, with prizes for every duck, to entertain the children who come to the Steam Threshers, Price shared.
“We’ve done pretty well, I think.” Price said. “My husband had a lot of tools for sale, so those went pretty quickly.”
Virginia Edwards, a retired hairdresser, shared that her father and her uncle Earl Hunt used to be involved in the Steam Threshers, so she’s been attending pretty much her entire life. Edwards shared that she’d been lucky enough to be offered to share a part of Jody Shuff’s space to offer up the odds and ends she’d collected over the years and the crafts she’d created, including a sewing machine that had been made to look like a tractor.
“The people here are just so wonderful and good and kind,” Edwards said. “It’s a fun, family-oriented event, and it’s educational for the younger generations. We need more events like this around Darke County.”
DCSTA officers are Shannon Smith, president; Dave Gibson, vice president; Chuck Price, treasurer; and Lori Grey, secretary. Trustees are Chris Thornhill, Doug Thornhill, Katie Smith, Sharon Price, Jesse Shaffer, Jeff Hess, Daniel Soward, Rob Sando and Larry E. Simmons.