GRAND TOUR OF THRESHERMEN'S PARK
James Valley Threshing Show
Driving past Andover on Highway 12, you can’t miss an unusual sight. A great old antique steam tractor displays a huge message, “STEAM IS KING” against the deep blue afternoon sky. Belted to the same engine is a large antique threshing machine displaying “THRESHERMEN’S PARK”.
No doubt about it, this is the place to be the first weekend after Labor Day in September for the James Valley Threshing Show. Across the field behind this display is a collection of interesting buildings surrounded by acres of prairie. The Park surely comes alive for the show. so come on in, let’s take the Grand Tour.
The “Welcoming Committee” greets the crowd at the ticket booth. The gate opens, and the people mover is here to take us on the tour.
Our first stop to the left is the Souvenir Shop, built in 2001 with money donated by the Gordon Bergh family and Dick and Marvel Washnok. It’s the place to buy our mugs, buttons, Frisbees, t-shirts, blankets, and other souvenirs. You can also get our 40th Anniversary Book here, and 10 – 20 year olds can sign up for the Carl Johnson free tractor giveaway.
Next to it is the Cook Car. When Verl Cutler first brought it to the Park it was the place to get some good home cooked food. That activity has since moved to the Feed Bin, a much larger building down Main Street. Now the Cook Car provides a glimpse of what farm life was like during threshing season. Both the Souvenir Shop and the Cook Car are popular places to view the Parade.
Across the road is the old Sinclair Gas Station, with two visible gas pumps on display. Sometimes roving musicians gather here for impromptu jam sessions during the Show.
The Parade comes down the road past the Gas Station, and turns at the corner where the old Case sign stands. Here are three stone benches dedicated to the memory of the Marske family. They offer a welcome place to sit and rest during the bustle of the Show.
Then the Parade turns and heads down Main Street. To the left is the Feed Bin, where delicious home made food is on the Menu. This is where you get the Original Threshermen’s Breakfast and the Lazy Farmers 4-H Club famous ham dinner. The Feed Bin was previously a grain holding building donated by Carl and Julaine Johnson. It was expanded in 2003.
Just past the Feed bin on the left is the very large Anderson building, where large steamers are stored to work on and view during the show. It’s a popular place for the guys to hang out. And it serves as a rustic auditorium for music at the Show.
Across Main Street are food concessions, and then the Toy Chest with it’s amazing displays of farm toys and dolls. Here is where the kids have their own Tractor Pull.
Next to the Anderson building is the John Deere Store, built and furnished by the James Valley Tractor Club. It is painted green – what else! And the people who gather here are often dressed in green. Next to it on the corner is the Club’s old time Blacksmith shop.
On the opposite corner is the Heritage Crafts building, home of the stunning Quilt Show and demonstrations of the Heritage Crafts that were necessary to pioneer family life. in 1994, Dick and Marvel Washnok built the Heritage Craft building and in 1996 they added more room on the east. In 2012, we added on to the west.
In 1997 Dick and Marvel built the Spinners and Weavers Barn beside the Heritage Crafts building. The Barn is a working Fiber Arts studio during the show, with demonstrations of looms, spinning wheels and the other accoutrements of the fiber crafts.
Across the street on the right is the beautiful old one room Schoolhouse with a bell turret on top. Be sure to stop in and see – it will have us all wishing for the return of simpler times. The playground beside it is filled with sturdy, solid old schoolyard playground equipment, including a swing set with metal horses to ride.
Next to the school is the Threshers Community Church, which is open to visitors every day, and where the Sunday church service is held.
Across Main Street are two more large steel buildings , the David Fie Building and the Johnson Memorial Machine Building, home to some vintage small engines and machines. Here there is often work in progress, and restoration of antique and vintage machines and engines.
Turning north off Main Street we ahead toward the Sawmills. On the left is the huge Show Field, filled with tractors, trucks, cars and other interesting vehicles all weekend during the Show.
On the right side of the road is the Tractor Pull area, the most popular place to be on Saturday morning. Beyond that is the Threshing Field, where vintage threshing machines, engines and equipment perform the centuries-old farm work once done by men and horses.
Now we’re at the huge Sawmill. This large steel building houses the Harold Brown Family Sawmill with the vintage sawmill in action, a sight that inspired Terry Redlin to paint the picture on the front cover of our 40th Anniversary Book. At the west end of the building is the Fie, Briden, Anderson Miniature Sawmill, with sawing equipment powered by two of the smaller Case steam engines. The adjacent area hosts a fabulous display of Steam Engines during the show.
The final sight on our tour is the “Threshermens Park – Steam is King” sign structure we noticed from the Highway. The back of the structure provides a closeup view of an antique steamer and threshing machine, just as interesting as the front view.
Now we’ll head back down the Parade Route past the Show Field to Main Street, and the Entrance where we came in.
Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of our Park.
Come and see the real thing in September!