Chris Erickson, of Manteno, runs his 1917 steam engine to power a threshing machine Friday at the 51st annual Will County Threshermen's Show at the Round Barn Farm in Manhattan. | Susan Demar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 13, 2014 2:09AM
Will County’s 53rd annual threshermen’s show, as locals call it, is more than just antique tractors. It’s four days of honoring generations of farmers’ hard work that has put food on America’s tables.
Before modern machines automated the harvest, farmers, including children, manually threshed wheat and grain for their basic foods. It was laborious and difficult work. It wasn’t until the 1940s and ’50s that combine harvesters did not require horses, changing farming forever.
The Threshermen’s Association Antique Tractor, Steam Engine and Gas Engine Show will be Thursday to July 20 at the Manhattan Park District’s Round Barn Farm.
Association director Ron Schubbe said the activities teach kids and adults alike where food comes from and “brings back some of the old-time values of years ago.”
For people like Dennis Christiansen, whose fathers and uncles were charter members of the association, it’s a time when farmers get together to swap tales and show off their antique tractors. Christiansen grew up with the show and has attended it his whole life, he said.
Visitors will see working steam engines, an operating steam-powered sawmill and antique tractor pulls. There will also be threshing and corn-shelling demonstrations, a flea market, crafts and many kinds of food available.
Kids will have fun with games, a magic show, a petting zoo, a pedal tractor pull and more.
The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Entry is $5 for adults and $2 for children. On-site parking is free.
The Round Barn Farm is along Illinois 52 and can easily be accessed from Interstate 80, driving five miles south from the Briggs Street exit.
For more information, directions and a complete schedule, visit www.steamshow.org