Thursday, September 27, 2012

Corn Show at Glasgow, Wisconsin

Last April Sandy Ravnum, Media Specialist for the Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau Elementary Schools in Wisconsin, invited me to do my Farm Heritage Program in each of the three schools, and when Nancy and I came there, she guided us from school to school and gave us brief tours of each school. We had a really fun day.

Sandy understood how impressed we were with the area and the schools, and she decided to invite us to a local harvest celebration near Glasgow, Wisconsin, which is simply called "The Corn Show."

Last Saturday, after taking an enjoyable drive down Highway 61 from Redwing to Winona and then driving about another 25 miles through the beautiful countryside of Wisconsin, we arrived at the site of The Corn Show about 10:45 A.M. Nancy and I soon learned the area was rich with rural heritage and the people were eager to share their stories. So let me say first, we thank the people of Glasgow for sharing their farm heritage with us.

The site of The Corn Show is the school house and school yard of the country school which was built in 1921. The local organization takes care of the school and uses it and the sheds behind it for their annual harvest celebration.

The activities of The Corn Show were a combination of those found in a small county fair and a country school picnic.

Sheds in the back displayed produce to be judged:

Pictures from local families of past farm activities were displayed in an adjoining shed:

Machinery brought in by local farmers was displayed on the grounds:

 The basement of the school displayed preserves and crafts to be judged:

 In the afternoon games were scheduled to be played by adults and young people, but first the club served a great noon meal in the basement of the school.
After the leisurely meal and much visiting, people gathered upstairs in the schoolhouse to hear my one-hour Farm Heritage Program.

The stage in the front made the schoolroom a great place to perform. Nancy displayed our books and farm heritage photos along the wall of the room.

Audience members seemed to enjoy the show. Many were teary-eyed and gave me kind comments after the show, and several game me hugs.

In the afternoon popular games included the "bale toss" where men competed to see who could throw the bale the best distance and, pictured below, the ball toss and the rope pull.
Two young men competing by trying to throw the ball into the milk can.

Teams competing in the "tug of war."

After items were judged, ribbons were handed out and places were announced.

Our friend Sandy Ravnum, who invited us to the event, won the quilt competition.

Sandy's son Ted restored a 1965 John Deere 3020, which according to her husband Steve, was purchased by his family in 1965 and was the biggest tractor around the area at the time.

Owner demonstrating a small feed grinder powered by a small engine.

To show the size of the winning sunflower head, Sandy holds her hand next to it.

We revisited the photo display to get some closeups.
School interior in the 1940s.

There were lots of great pictures of harvesting (too many to post), but one that caught my eye displayed the pride and joy shown by farmers who no longer had to shovel oats or carry sacks when they unloaded grain. If you are on of those who remember unloading oats by hand, you understand what a big deal an elevator and a hydraulic hoist was at the time.

Before we left, we visited with Sandy and Dan, who is the president of The Corn Show organization.
Sandy, Dan, and I enjoying swapping stories as we visited before we left the event.

Jane Thompson, who had purchased a book after my program, caught us before we left to get a photo.

Sandy and I in front of the school.

We couldn't resist snapping a photo of a beautiful, huge oak (above)
before we hit the road for home (below).

The Glasgow Corn Show is an authentic harvest festival consisting of local people showing their produce to be judged. It is not an event designed to attract thousands of people, but it is more like a wonderful, friendly neighborhood get-together.

Now that's real farm heritage!

 Nancy and I felt privileged to be there and especially honored to be part of their entertainment program. 
We thank Sandy for inviting us and for sponsoring our lunch, and we also thank the many members of the organization for their effort in putting on the show. Their hospitality toward us made us feel welcome and helped us enjoy the entire event.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dozinky 2012

Dozinky is an annual Harvest festival at New Prague, Minnesota, that celebrates the Czech Heritage and the Farm Heritage of the city and the surrounding area. The September event is always fun and well attended because it features the sale of Czech foods, ethic-related items, and a Parade of Farm Pride.
Czech Village is managed by the volunteers of the Czech Heritage Club of New Prague.

Nancy and I felt honored to be invited to display and sell our farm heritage books and Czech apparel at a booth located in the Czech Village, which consisted of a group of tents in a space between two downtown building on the north side of the main street in New Prague. Pedestrian traffic kept us busy all day as friends stopped by to say hello and as customers checked out our books, tee shirts, sweat shirts, caps, and visors.
Nancy at our booth in the Czech Village.

 Street scene about 9:00AM (above)
Street scene at same location about 11:00 AM (above and below)

By noon both sides of the street were lined with people eager to watch the Parade of Farm Pride, which features a variety of floats from organizations, musician, political figures, and tractors new and old.
In the above photo, my cousin Ben Cervenka drives his restored D15 Allis Chalmers.
 Street vendors were busy and the Czech Village was packed during much of the day. Visitors were eager to listen to the Czech music and watch Czech dancers perform in the tent at the far end of the Czech Village, shown on the right of the above photo.

Nancy and I wish to thank everyone involved in organizing and managing Dozinky 2012.

We especially thank Vi Chromy and Deb Ziskovsky for inviting Nancy and me to display and sell our books and apparel at the Czech Village. We were proud to be part of it.

Visit New Prague during Dozinky next year. You and your family will be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show 2012

The LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show provides the whole family with exciting farm activities that date back to the Nineteenth Century through the middle of the Twentieth Century. Everything from sawing lumber to threshing and baling with rigs that go back to the 1890s.

Nancy and I were planning to attend the three-day event for one day to take photos for our new book, A Farm Country Harvest, but when officer and board member, Harold Wondra called me a few weeks before the show to ask us to exhibit, Nancy and I were glad to accept the offer. We saw it as a great opportunity to offer our books for sale and show the many photographs of farm activities that we've collected from museums and farm families from all over Minnesota and other states.

People of all ages seem to enjoy looking at the collection of farm activity photos.

Nancy poses in our exhibit of farm photos and my books.
On the small TV on the left, all eight of my books run with pages showing at 3-second intervals.
On the large TV in the center, photos of farm activities run with pages showing at 3-second intervals.
The farm photo display on the TV lasts for about 25 minutes and often people would take turns to sit on the one chair to watch the entire display unfold. 

To the left of our booth, Dorothy Riebel, board member and officer of Pioneer Power, dawns her house dress and apron to demonstrate washing and ironing as it was during the era before automatics.
Dorothy's husband Bob is also an active member of the organization.

Across the aisle from us, Carl and Joan Veldhuizen exhibit Carl's working scale-models of antique equipment and Joan's crocheting. Joan offers for sale many of the items she makes.

To the right of our booth, Loren Riebel displays part of his vast collection of antique farm tools, which he labels with a number, and the "key" is posted on a sheet nearby so after viewers quiz themselves on naming the tools, they can check their answers. Sorry, but we did not get a photo of Loren's fabulous display, but he displays every year. Stop by next year to see it. You will not be disappointed. 

Loren's children and grandchildren showed up later to have photos taken with him(We missed the photo op because we were busy.), but the great thing is that so many of the younger generation in his family are very interested in his tool collection. Gaining and maintaining the interest of the young people is absolutely necessary for farm heritage to be passed on.

When things slowed down for us, Nancy went over to the Creamery Building where Loren displays his dairy equipment collection.
 Loren Riebel with his dairy equipment collection.

As you can tell by the grins on the faces of Dorothy, Carl, Joan, and Loren, they enjoy what they do, which seems to be the case for all of the hard-working members who keep things going at LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show. 
We did not get time to look at all the activities and displays (not even close), but we did focus on the ones that provided opportunities for photos that we can use in our book, A Farm Country Harvest, which we hope to release by summer of 2013.

After asking around, we discover that if we need information on threshing machines and the names of the operators, the guy to talk to is Doug Hager, who has the amazing responsibility of being in charge of maintaining and operating the threshing equipment.
Doug Hager, taking a moment to talk with me about his work.

The many activities of the day keep Doug really busy, and as he hustled about his work with confidence, he was always willing to answer questions from observers. I expected he might be too busy to talk to me about asking him for help with my book, but he seemed eager to help in any way. This is the way it is at the Pioneer Power Show.  
I was clever enough to stay out of Doug's way when he was operating or fixing the machines.

Many threshers were running simultaneously during part of the day, but one that had particular interest for me was the 1898 Case. The sign below gives its history and present situation.

When this machine came out, it provided the latest in threshing technology, which is why I want to use it as an example in my book because it lacks a number of labor saving devices that were common on the newer machines.
Profile of the 1898 J.I. Case Agitator.
Note the short feeder on the left provided a platform where a worker could stand as he cut the twines and fed the stalks into the machine manually. 
On the right, the machine used a conveyor to carry the straw to a pile, which required a man or two to fork the straw away and stack it. Newer thresher had knives that cut the twine, allowing the bundles to be pitched in by a couple of workers, and a blower was used to remove the straw to a pile, eliminating he need for workers to stack it.

Since it lacked knives to cut the twine on the bundles, a man had to cut the twine and hand-feed the stalks into the feeder, which was a slow, dusty process. Pictured above are Shannon Prostrollo pitching and her father Dan Gossman feeding feeding the machine. Dan told me that when he soaks the red bandanna with water and ties it over his nose and mouth as he has done on the photo above, it almost makes the job of hand feeding the machine bearable.

Without someone stacking the straw, as shown below, the straw would pile up and block the flow of straw from the conveyor as shown above.

To handle he grain, the 1898 Agitator had a sacker attachment. The handle on the top tallied the number of times the sacker was switched from one side to the other. Farmers were billed by the machine's owner according to the amount of grain threshed.

The 1898 machine is powered by horses in a nearby building. As the horses walk in a circle, their muscles turn gears that transmit power to a shaft running along the ground.
The shaft transmits power to a pulley near the 1898 Agitator, and the pulley is connected by a belt to power the threshing machine. as shown below. In the picture below, while the horses are ready to perform their tasks in the shed in he background, the men belt up the drive pulley.

The handle on the transfer box in the above photo engages the horse's power to the pulley.

Left to right are Shannon Prostrollo, Shannon's son Josh, Scott Gossman, Dan Gossman, LuAnn Hiniker, and Larry Leckband.
Dan Gossman and his family are the operators. Scott is Dan's brother and Shannon is Dan's daughter.
Larry is from Ocheyedan, Iowa, and was introduced to me as "a wealth of information," an inventor, and a collector of antiques.
LuAnn is the proud owner of the 1898 Case Agitator. 
Thanks to LuAnn and the Gossman Family for maintaining and operating the machine.

Nancy and my interests in this machine started when Shannon stopped by our booth earlier to chat and invite Nancy and me down to the demonstration for photo opportunities.  Thank you, Shannon.

This machine is over 110 years old and reflects great care in its history. The paint is faded but clearly visible, and the mechanical parts work fine. We are all thankful for the people who take the time, make the effort, and pay the expenses to operate the many antique pieces of equipment that keep our farm heritage alive. 

In stark contrast to the 1898 J.I. Case Agitator is the newer and larger model Case thresher with two wing feeders, a straw blower, and grain auger shown below.

Powering the big Case Machine is a tractor made by the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company.
The large wing feeders allowed bundles to be pitched from wagons from both sides simultaneously, and when it was used for stack threshing, it enabled close proximity of the machine to several stacks without moving the machine, which was a time-consuming process.
The above close-up shows the bundles coming into the main feeder from both sides.
Straw is evacuated by a large blower and the grain is dispersed into a grain box with an auger, eliminating the need for workers to tend the sacker and the conveyor as on the 1898 Agitator.

But nothing is so perfect that it wouldn't need a bit of fixing from time to time, as shown in the photo below.
 Instead of the machine counting sacks as the 1898 Case Agitator, this machine actually weighs the oats and counts the number of bushels. The weight of the oats in the hopper is dumped into the auger when it exceeds the set weight of half a bushel as set by the counterweight.

There are lots of activities going on at the same time during the three-day event, and to answer all types of questions, the organization has an information booth, which was tended by our good friend, Betty Sticha, an active and long-time member of the club pictured in the information booth below:

Officer and Board Member, Harold Wondra was in charge of Preuhs Building where we exhibited, and in the photo below, Harold takes time in his busy day to pose as he drives the grounds to provide help to customers and workers during the three-day event.

Harold's wife Ellen watches the 25-minute photo display in our booth. She is a long-time friend of ours, and we were glad to discover she enjoyed the photos.

Customers and visitors kept us pretty busy, but during the two-hour parade of tractors, Nancy managed to snap a photo of our friend Dick Mushitz driving a Massey Harris that he restored.

Nancy and I had a great time exhibiting our photos and selling our books at the 39th annual LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show, but three days wasn't enough for us to get away to see the many other exhibits. However, if you put the third weekend after the first full week in August on your calendar for 2013, you could try to cover it all yourself. Stop in to say hello to us if you do. Go to their website at for more information.

Thanks to Harold Wondra for contacting us to exhibit and thanks to all of the hard-working members of  the club for making it all possible. Also, special thanks to Doug Hager for his time and expertise and to Shannon Prostrollo for reaching out to us to let us know about the amazing 1898 J.I. Case Agitator.
Hope to see you all again next year.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson