Old-timers and youngsters alike enjoyed activities at the 53rd Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Show in Haviland last weekend.
By-standers shouted encouragement to youngsters straining to get a few more inches from their pedal tractors. In the background noises of old engines popping and the hum of an old-time sawmill cutting cedar logs added to the nostalgic atmosphere. August heat waves bounced off the sandy drive and on the northeastern edge of the staging area, dry wind blew wheat chaff onto sweaty pitchfork handlers. It was the 53rd Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Show at Haviland, Kansas on Saturday, August 26, and though the exhibitors made the most of it, there just weren't the bustling crowds of yesteryear.
"We don't have about half the people here that we had last year," said engine club vice-president Andy Kimball. "There were a lot of other activities going on this same weekend I guess, but we are still out here having fun. We will keep this going as long as we can."
A crew of young boys and girls kept the pedal tractor pull contest interesting, with top performers winning cash prizes and the honor of going on to compete at the state fair. In the 7-year-old division, Cole Freeman of Pratt won first place with a pull of 31 feet. Bryce McDowell was second with 27 feet and J.J. Kildup (last name unverified) was third at 19.5 feet.
American Legion Post 157 representatives Rodney Hannon and Adj. Sam Bucher watched the proceedings around them from the shade of their canopy, giving out book marks and signing up chances for a drawing to be held later on Saturday afternoon. Prizes to be won included American Legion medals, a Mossy Oak insulated mug and an American Flag.
"We've got at least 25 to 30 registered," Hannan said. "Not very many, but there will be some lucky winners. We are here just to let the community know what we can do for them if they need help. That is what our organization if for, to help others. We need to be kind to all people."
Under the shade trees just east of the homestead house, Tom Terwort, set up shop with his old time tool collection and a variety of saws.
"I've just always enjoyed collecting these things," Terwort said. "But my wife said it's time to let some of this go, so I'm making some good deals here."
As much trading with other exhibitors as selling likely took place, but the history in the tool collections at Terwort's feet put a spark in many a visitor's eye and revived memories of how work used to be done.
John Folkert of Haviland did more than just remember. He had his grandson, Luke Ballard and a friend out on a hay wagon loaded with wheat shocks, pitching them into an old-time threshing machine to separate the grain from the chaff and straw. Folkert ran the tractor powering the belt-driven threshing machine. The growing straw pile would later be baled for local use.
Kimble and friends put an old time sawmill set-up through its paces for a small crowd that silently enjoyed the shaded demonstration. A large blade sliced through huge ceder logs, turning them into rough planks that could be used for building.
Probably having the most fun of the day was 11-year-old Haviland Elementary student Junior Gallardo who was driving a home built plower tractor around the grounds, powered by a Model A Ford engine.
"We come every year," he said, gesturing to his dad. "It's a lot of fun."
And what better way to relive history is there, than a good old fashioned engine and thresher show.