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Friday, 28 August 2015 11:48

Antique tractors steaming in for Labor Day 2015 weekend thresheree

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Charlie Hendrickson checks out a row of tractors at a past Rock River Thresheree at Thresherman’s Park in Edgerton. The Labor Day weekend event features antique tractors and construction equipment as well as a flea market, craft fair, children’s activities, steam train rides, a garden tractor pull and more. Charlie Hendrickson checks out a row of tractors at a past Rock River Thresheree at Thresherman’s Park in Edgerton. The Labor Day weekend event features antique tractors and construction equipment as well as a flea market, craft fair, children’s activities, steam train rides, a garden tractor pull and more. File photo by Terry Mayer

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Old school rules next weekend at the 59th annual Rock River Thresheree. The event is set for Friday, Sept. 4, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7, at Thresherman’s Park in Edgerton.

Among the hundreds of tractors and other pieces of machinery will be antique construction equipment owned by members of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club.

The machinery club is one of the featured organizations for this year’s event. Besides displaying their antique equipment, group members will host a booth featuring scale-model tractors, T-shirts and information about their organization.

“Our members bring in their equipment, some are restored and some are not. Several of our members participate in the Parade of Power and drive their machinery throughout the parade,” said Tricia Pearson, club manager. “Some of the equipment is from before the 1900s and from the early 1900s. Some of the equipment was used on a farm or for a business. Some of it is just old stuff that people have found.

“Most of our equipment is from the Caterpillar Company, but we have a few other brands, as well.”

The club hopes to attract new members at the thresheree.

“People can come to our booth if they have any questions or if they want to sign up for membership. They can also receive a copy of our magazine ... “ Pearson said. “We’re looking for younger members. ... We offer family membership, so children can be involved.”

Headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club has about 3,000 members with chapters throughout the world.

“We have chapters in most areas of the United States and throughout the world,” Pearson said. “People in each chapter participate in local shows to provide information and hands-on experiences. We have about four chapters that help with (the Rock River Thresheree).”

The 59th thresheree will feature antique steam engines, tractors, cars, trucks and farm equipment. Todd Ligman, president of the Rock River Thresheree, said people travel from throughout the area to display their equipment.

“Actually, we get people who come from quite a ways,” Ligman said. “We have a lot of people coming from out of state with their antique construction machinery. We have people coming from Michigan, Illinois and Iowa, and we got some groups coming from down south, as well.”

The event also will include crafting demonstrations, a flea market, the daily Parade of Power, children’s activities and live music, with Precocious performing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Pandemonium performing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday at the amphitheater.

“The tractors are a big draw, as well as the flea market. The Parade of Power is a popular event. All the steam engines and antique farming equipment go throughout the amphitheater,” Ligman said. “We grind corn at the corn mill, and we have the corn for sale. We also grind buckwheat and flour and people come out for that.”

A new event this year will be the garden tractor pulls, which will be held at noon on Saturday. This also is the 50th anniversary of the Rock River Cannonball steam train, and free rides will be offered on Friday.

“It’s a spectator ride,” Ligman said. “The train has been here at the park for all 50 years.”

The Sears House, which is located at Thresherman’s Park, will be open for tours this year.

“It’s an old kit house that’s located on the grounds,” Ligman said. “It’s been redone with furnishing.”

About 20,000 people attend the thresheree over the four days. Mary Langer, secretary for Rock River Thresheree Inc., said the event gives people an opportunity to see how old-fashioned farm equipment is operated.

“It’s living history. People like to come see the tractors,” Langer said. “Some people will say, ‘This is like the tractor my grandpa had.’ People are fascinated with steam engines and seeing how they work.

“Some people will bring their kids to show them what farming was like in the past and compare it to what it’s like now. You get to see how the equipment works. It’s just not sitting there.”

Planning for the thresheree is a year-round process, Langer said.

“We have an 11-member board. We have at least 40 committees with numerous members.

“When the steam show is over, we go into working on our haunted hayride for October,” she said.

Ligman said many volunteers and businesses help to make the event a success.

“The last two weeks before the event, there is a big push to get the grounds ready,” Ligman said. “We have a lot of volunteers and companies that donate items. Johnson Tractors helps with the tractors. We rely heavily on volunteers and donations.”

The cost to attend the Rock River Thresheree is $8 per person. Children 12 years and younger are free. Friday is senior citizens day where seniors can attend for $6. For more information, go to thresheree.com.

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