YORK WOODS – Kendra Price was enjoying a family tradition… she was eating a watermelon slice cut with a buzz saw. Actually the watermelon wasn’t the tradition; going to the Steam Threshers Reunion was. Her family has been attending it for years.
This unique method of slicing watermelon was a new offering for the 58th Annual Steam Threshers Reunion at York Woods. It was cooked up by Steve and Cary Countryman, along with their grandson Wyatt Downard, as a way to attract young people. “We try to think up things that would keep the kids interested,” he said, noting they come to the shows to entertain, have fun and keep busy.
“You see a kid at one of these shows, he looks around, he doesn’t come back. We have to find a way to get him interested if we don’t want to lose this part of our history.” So they came up with the watermelon buzz saw. Steve said Cary saw a can crusher one time, then asked “why can’t we make an arm that crushes cans.” They did.
About a dozen people gathered around as the model steam engine was fired up. It was attached to a long belt which drove the ‘crusher’ arm. The cans were fed one at a time and crushed almost flat; better than most can-crushers in use today.
Everything operates with a belt attached to a steam engine. “Everything,” Steve repeated. “The way it was done in 1900.” He added, however, there probably wasn’t much need for a can crusher in 1900.
Long time Reunion announcer Rick Brewer said attendance was up this year, much better than the previous year. “New officers and directors… new attitude… the show is headed in the right direction!”
He said the show this year had 10 full size steam engines and 10 scale-model steam engines. “This is up from last year,” he added. He pointed out a Case Roller, noting it was owned by Wayne Murphy and featured this year. “Lots of action and creativity this year,” Brewer said. A few of the activities included threshing wheat, the sawmill, buzz saw, a binder that cuts wheat, puts it into shocks and wraps twine around it.
There were several vendors offering ice cream, sandwiches and pop; along with an adhesive rated at 2500 pounds per square inch (after 24 hours).
There was one more new offering at the 2014 Reunion. In past years, the chug-a-chug-a-chugga was the dominating sound of a Steam Threshers visit. This year there was a new sound… like an organ doing traditional favorites such as ‘Good Old Summertime” and more. It was the Kitch Greenhouses Steam Calliope out of Miamisburg. It was fired up for about 15 minutes every hour and sent the chugs into a barely noticeable background sound.
Steve Countryman (holding the shovel) and brother Cary slice watermelons for Steam Thresher Reunion visitors. (Bob Robinson photo)