Much to see at the Thresheree

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Jake Magee
Thursday, August 28, 2014

EDGERTON—The Rock River Thresheree Reunion returns this Labor Day weekend for the 58th time, and with it comes a slew of antique machines for hobbyists to fawn over.

Rock River Thresheree Inc. focuses on the “preservation and exhibition of agricultural and industrial equipment,” said Todd Ligman, the organization's president. The four-day event is a perfect example of the nonprofit's efforts.

The event started in 1955 when a group of friends decided to get together and thresh crops like farmers did in the good ol' days before combine harvesters took over. The Thresheree has been going strong ever since.

“The Thresheree, it's our heritage,” Vice President Charlie Hendrickson said. “It's what made this part of the Midwest big. It's a part of history that's going to be forgotten about if it isn't preserved.”

From Friday to Monday, Thresheree attendees can see the steam-powered, mechanical machines that were replaced by gas-powered ones at the turn of the century, Hendrickson said.

“What's really cool about it is you get to look back in history and see how things were done at the turn of the century,” Ligman said. “It's a step back in time.”

Everything from small washing machine engines to a giant steam-powered pile driver, the last operating one in the country, will be displayed, Ligman said.

“We're in the breadbasket in America, and we try to preserve the machines that made this country what is,” Hendrickson said.

This year, the Wisconsin chapter of the International Harvesters Collectors Club will make its Thresheree debut with the Farmall Frolic, a show displaying Farmall tractors, machines, parts and merchandise.

In the past, the Thresheree hosted shows displaying Case, John Deere and other brands of equipment. Brands are rotated annually to draw a variety of people to the event, Ligman said.

The daily, 2 p.m. parade of power allows people to see the tractors in action for up to 90 minutes as they move through the grounds, Ligman said.

The event hosts more than steam-powered machines, though. Attendees can buy “tons of good, great food,”—everything from corndogs to ribs to homemade ice cream, Hendrickson said.

The Rock Valley Chapter of the Badger Chordhawks' Chorus is returning to sell grilled brats at the corn boil booth next to the railroad depot.

With more than 350 vendors, the Thresheree hosts one of the largest flea markets in southern Wisconsin. Antique furniture, tractor parts, velvet Elvis statues and everything in between will be for sale.

Kids can ride ponies, play in the corn box (a sandbox with corn kernels instead of sand), ride the Cannonball train, participate in a scavenger hunt and more. Families can see demonstrations of wooden wheel-making, blacksmiths forging metal objects, sawmills and live threshing.

With the help of an expert, kids and adults alike can even drive their first tractor.

“There's a ton of things to look at. It's hard to see it all in one day,” Ligman said.

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