Threshers Association Celebrates 50 Years; "Come See Em All"
Potential. For an old time tractor enthusiast, every tractor has it. It doesn’t matter if the engine has seized, paint faded or frame has rotted into a collapsed pile. For many, the older the tractor, the greater its allure. For them, antique tractors and farm equipment hold an undeniable appeal, often born out of nostalgia and memories of childhood. There is also the satisfaction of taking a piece of solid old machinery and restoring it to working order, and keeping it running decades after it was made.
Every year for the last 50 years, a small handful of tractor enthusiasts have been continuing a Culbertson tradition of showcasing the iron horses of yesteryear and the timeline of mechanization that has come from the days of pulleys and horses to the modern creature comforts of climate controlled cabs and global positioning systems.
This year, the Threshing Bee and Antique Show is taking place Sept 28-29 one mile south of Culbertson on Highway 16.
It is put on by the Northeast Montana Threshers Association.
It’s a place where nostalgia beckons attendees to a simpler time in farming. Youth can witness their grandfathers’ and their great grandfathers’ tractors in action and climb up for a closer look. Older generations can recall the past and everyone can find appreciation for how far farming equipment has come over the last century. It’s also one of the few places where you can witness a working 117-year-old Sterling Hand Feed Threshing machine. Built in 1896, the once modern machine consisting of webbing belts and pulleys traveled from farm to farm by horse with the potential threshing of 250 bundles an hour if enough people were throwing wheat from both sides.
“This is an event that enables people to see how farming was done all of those years ago. They can see the efforts that had to be made to get the crops in and to maintain the machinery,” said Rodney Iverson, a charter member of the Association and owner of some 25 tractors conservatively.
This year, between 60 and 70 tractors will be on display.
Buttons cost $6 and include admission to the barbecue Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m.
This year, attendees can expect to witness the threshing of bundles, log sawing, shingle sawing, and lumber planing, while walking the rows of tractors, stationary engines, flee market and old cars.
The event kicks off with a pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m. each morning, a slow race at 10:30 a.m., followed by a youngsters coin scramble at 11:30 a.m. and youngsters pedal pull.
On Saturday the parade of tractors begins at 3:00 p.m. and on Sunday it starts at 2:00 p.m.
Iverson’s enthusiasm for old tractors dates back to his early childhood. It started in 1928 when his dad, Ingvold, brought home a 1530 International. When he was six years old he enjoyed riding on the 10-foot grain seeding drills pulled by the family’s horses. He learned to drive it when he was 13 years old working in the fields some 12 hours a day for 30 cents an hour. “I don’t remember the year, but in the late 1980s I was helping plant a patch of land the old fashioned way and I heard that old familiar sound of the squeaking of the disks where the grain dropped in and the light clicking of the horse’s hooves in the dirt. That was a great memory,” he recalled.
The Northeast Montana Threshers Association began as a group of less than 20 and over the years has grown. “We were just a small group of people that all had an interest in the older machines. We grew up with them and watched our parents and grandparents use them on their farms. There were other groups that had started associations and we felt like we could do something like that too,” recalls Iverson.
For more information, contact Iverson at (406) 787-5265, David Krogedal at (406) 963-2360 or Bob Bahls at (406) 488-5833.