MAKOTI - A blue sky and crisp fall air greeted visitors to the 52nd annual Makoti Threshing Show Saturday.
Cheryl Stein, a board member and advertising chairwoman of the Makoti Threshing Show, said the annual event started out modestly enough at Makoti's Jubilee celebration in 1961.
"They had just a small demonstration of threshing machines. One of the fellows from this area, his name is Clarence Schenfisch, he had a hobby of restoring tractors, so he had them in the parade," Stein said. "And about a year or two later he died of cancer, but they did have the show the next year. They decided to do this because it went over so well. And then they dedicated a lot of the things to him because he was the one (to get it started)."
Dan Feldner/MDN • Some people watch a mucker road building demonstration in a muddy field on the south end of the Makoti Threshing Show Saturday morning.
The Makoti Threshing Association was formed in 1962, with Schenfisch's collection of 13 antique tractors forming the backbone of the display. Since then the show has grown to include dozens of steam-powered tractors, along with threshing machines, a large collection of stationary engines and the largest collection of crawler tractors in the state. Along with the equipment owned by the association, many people bring their own antiques to display over the weekend.
"And then it just grew from that. It wasn't just the Makoti Threshing Association anymore, really, it was a community thing. There's Roseglen, Ryder, Plaza, New Town, all these people took this interest in these historic things," Stein said. "They probably were their parents' or something, so there was sentimental value in a lot of it to show it off and restore them. And now there's people from out of state and everyplace else that still come to help out."
Stein noted that third- and fourth-generation family members travel from all over for the weekend just to run a piece of family machinery during the show.
Threshing is the way grain was harvested at that time, and preceded modern combining. The grain would be separated, or threshed, off the hulls by large threshers pulled by steam-powered tractors.
"They would have big crews that would go around, and a lot were for hire ... like custom combiners do it now, only these were threshing crews. Some people did their own, but it was a lot faster if you had one of the crews come in," Stein said. "And then the cook cars got their start from that, too, because they would hire somebody to do their cooking and they had one of those cars, and they would bring it along with them and their crew."
Along with threshing demonstrations, there are plenty of other things to see and do at the Makoti Threshing Show. There is a mucker road building demonstration, a large stationary engine display, working saw mill, and the largest collection of crawler tractors in the state.
While many of these activities appeal to the men, Stein said there is plenty to do for the whole family. She noted Bessie Bingo is a unique twist on the classic game where people buy squares in a pasture and whichever one Bessie the cow deposits on is the winner. There is also an indoor flea market, live music, a chili cook-off, Dutch oven cook-off, door prizes, and the Pioneer Village with many vintage buildings to walk through.
New this year is the pickup pull, which has several different classes of pickup trucks pulling a weighted sled. The Giant Pumpkin Contest is only about five years old, and 2012 also marks the first year the Spring Valley Lutheran Church is on display.
Some of the events to look forward to today include a kiddie parade that happens just before the regular 1 p.m. parade around the show grounds, an antique tractor pull right after the parade, pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m., Lenny the Clown and Magic Show, and the John Deere 2-Cylinder Slow Race.
"If you like to watch paint dry you'll love that slow race," Stein said with a grin.
For more information go to the website (www.makotind.com). The show grounds are directly south of the city of Makoti.
Stein also noted there are several heated buildings for those who want to get out of the cold for a while, and there is also plenty of hot food to be had.
Stein said the $10 entrance fee helps pay all the costs of the association, including building and equipment maintenance, and liability insurance. It is an all-volunteer effort which was really tested last year when the grounds flooded due to unnaturally high snow melt.
"Last year everything was under water here. They had to pump water out even before they could have the show last year," Stein said. "And then it also took out the electrical outlets for the camping, so they had to replace all those."
Stein said she loves listening to people who visit the Dobrinski Homestead Shack, which was owned by her great uncle. From what she's heard, apparently the linoleum in the shack was the only kind around back then because so many people recognize it.
One year she even churned butter and let all the children churn some of their own. She said that kind of hands-on experience can give children a spark that will make them want to learn more about their history, and it could eventually lead them to pass on that appreciation to their own children.
"It makes history come alive to them when they actually get to participate," Stein said. "There's a lot of kids riding with their parents on the tractors (during the parade), and that's one of the things to get the kids interested, too, to take over someday."