Steam is the thing at Threshers’
Michael Stepp, a longtime antique farm machine fan, became an operator Tuesday of a Case steam-powered tractor at the 43rd annual Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion.
Rain did not stop Stepp from firing up the machine dating from the early 1900s owned by Denton FarmPark for those who wanted to watch.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” Stepp said while waiting for the steam to build. “I live down the road. I started running the machines after I went to steam school. This shows the stuff that people take for granted nowadays.”
For decades, classic pieces of steam-powered and other antique farm equipment have been a major attraction. Exhibits also include a working saw mill, also powered by a steam engine.
Sponsors celebrated the 43rd reunion this week of what is described as the greatest steam, gas engine and antique farm show in the Southeastern United States. The annual event also features five days of music, exhibits and demonstrations of old machines farmers used for a variety of jobs before many had electricity and how farmers fixed some machines by making their own parts. Horses get some attention too, when owners put them on treadmills to show horse-powered threshing.
Machine owners and collectors attend the event to see machines in operation and perhaps find parts for the ones they own. Many antique machinery fans are members of the Southeast Antique Machinery Society Inc.
Gas was the fuel for a John Deere ice cream making machine operated by Erin Childrey. Vanilla was ready to sell at $3 a serving. Peach ice cream was in the tub, but there was no customer line.
“It has been miserable in this rain,” Childrey said.
Wayne Yarborough, a retired Sanford farmer, came to learn a bit of history.
“I’ve been coming here for about the past 15 to 20 years,” he said while seated in the amphitheater during a rain shower. “They have something new I have not seen every year. I remember a lot of these machines. We have several antiques going back to 1936.”
Denton FarmPark hosts gospel and bluegrass entertainment daily. Featured performers include recording artist Tammie Davis, the Southern Justice band, Soul Purpose, Brian Free and Assurance, Destination Bluegrass Band, Sweethearts of the Rodeo and Loose Stone.
The Handy Dandy steam engine offers rides through woods and a Western-style shoot out with robbers.
The event ends Saturday with fireworks.
Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion
Where: Denton FarmPark, 1072 Cranford Road.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., through Saturday.
Admission: $14 for Adults, $6 for children under 12 and free for preschoolers.
Parking: Free; Scooters, strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent. Call 287-7715.
Attendance: 50,000 to 60,000 people usually attend, according to organizers.
Information: (800) 458-2755, or go to www.farmpark.com