Steam Thresher visitors see a variety of engines, events

GREENVILLE – “Real good crowd today,” said Steam Thresher Reunion announcer Rick Brewer on July 3. “People are realizing it’s not going to rain today, so they’re coming on out.”

About a half hour later it started drizzling. Some left, others found cover to wait out the rain… others continued their duties and explorations with umbrellas and rain coats. One gentleman on a tractor was steering with one hand, holding an umbrella with the other.

“My dad would have made me stay out in the field to keep working,” he said. “As long as you have traction, he’d say, you keep plowing.”

Shannon Keener and his family, Lockington residents, were making their first visit to the Darke County reunion. He said they usually go to the one in Ft. Loramie, but it was their first time to York Woods. “I like the steam engines,” he added. “We’ll be back.”

A number of youngsters – the next generations – were operating the huge equipment; among them was 11-year-old Cole Besecker from Kansas City, Mo. Earlier he had been moving the family’s 1905 Baker Steam Engine – the second oldest still in existence – across the field in front of the woods; then he moved it into position to provide the power for a saw mill demonstration.

According to Cole’s dad, he does a good job of operating the huge piece of equipment. “He runs it a lot,” dad said. “Actually anytime we’re not in Kansas City.”

A variety of vendors were available, including one offering homemade ice cream. A three horsepower John Deere “Hit or Miss” gas engine was used on site to make the treat. According to owner Rob Ullery, the engine, also known as the “one dinger,” makes about 10 gallons of ice cream in a half hour.

“This one is from the 1930’s,” he said. “They were used to run washing machines, pump water, operate buzz saws… things like that.”

The 59th Annual Darke County Steam Threshers Reunion ran from July 2-5. It featured nearly two dozen steam threshers from Missouri, Canada, Indiana and Ohio. Some of the featured engines were Frick, Oliver/Hart Parr, Bessemer, Jacobsen and Bolens. Events included threshing, the saw mill, tractor games, a kiddie tractor pull and sparks shows at dusk.

PHOTO CAPTION: Cole Besecker, 11, moves the Baker Steam Engine into position to power the saw mill demonstration at the 2015 Steam Thresher Reunion at York Woods July 3. (Bob Robinson photo)

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