CUSTER TWP. — The wooden paddles whirled, the teeth criss-crossed and the ripened golden wheat fell to the old-fashioned harvester off of South Scottville Road as members of the Western Michigan Old Engine Club continued their preparations for their 47th annual Old Engine and Tractor Show early next month.
Each year — with last year being an outlier because of COVID-19 — the club harvests grain at various farms in the area to assist in the show. This year, Bob Thurow donated roughly 2 acres of wheat from land he owns just south of Bradshaw Road.
“We started out eating breakfast this morning around 7, 7:30, and went over to the grounds around 9. We got started out here a short time later,” explained Doug Rollenhagen, a member of the club.
The club pulled a harvester that was originally built in the late 1800s behind an antique International tractor, driven by Rich Alway. As the tractor moved along, the harvester slashed the wheat, tucked it up and into a binder that was closely watched by Dave Hasenbank, and then the bound wheat was dropped on the ground.
A short distance behind the tractor-harvester combo was a truck-and-wagon combo. As Ed McCumber drove the truck, Kenny Bates was on the wagon tucking each part of the wheat onto the wagon. Between four and six guys, a couple much younger than the others, were tossing the bundles on the wagon for Bates to stack.
The work crew filled at least two wagons full of the wheat in the handful of hours they worked. The wheat will be stored until the club’s Aug. 5-8 show at the Old Engine Club grounds in Riverside Park, Rollenhagen said. When the show gets going, the wheat will be threshed. The grain will be separated from the remaining straw, and the straw will be bailed from there.
The show will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5 through Saturday, Aug. 7, and then with limited displays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8.
The show will feature a host of displays and demonstrations, including antique tractors and equipment, stationary engines, a running saw mill, shingle branding, a flea market, swap meet, horse and tractor pulls and daily tractor parades.
This year, the show is also being hosted in conjunction with the Scottville 10 & 31 Celebration. And, the show will have a few special guests, too. On top of the visit from members of the Mid-Lake Rustic Iron Organization from Wisconsin, the club is welcoming the International Harvester Collector’s Club of Michigan to the show this year.
The club has members from across the state, and their annual summer meeting and state show will be in Scottville in August.
The Western Michigan Old Engine Club’s show does charge admission each day. The cost is $6 for daily admission, or free for kids 12 and younger. Thursday is Senior Day with a senior admission rate of $5 for those 65 and older.