Threshing ‘Bee’utiful

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Engines, tractors, automobiles, trucks, living history displays and demonstrations, music and food . . . oh my

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THIS YOUNG MOM and dad take advantage of all the photo-op opportunities provided by the Butterfield Threshing Bee by snapping a few shots of their son, sitting high up on the tractor seat behind the steering wheel of the farm equipment.


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NICHOLAS LEWKE HELD onto his grin as he pretended he was a tractor driver with plenty of power. Nicholas is the son of Mark and April (Thomas) Lewke of Shoreview. The family was at the Bee with April’s parents, Maloye and Margaret Thomas of Butterfield. The tractor is a rare one – a 1956 300 utility International, shown by Randy Prochazka of Butterfield. (It was Randy’s father’s tractor.)


They have been threshing the small grain the third weekend in August now for nearly a half century.

This year was no exception.

There is more that calls people to the Butterfield Steam & Gas Engine Show (a.k.a. Butterfield Threshing Bee) beyond separating the chaff from the grain. There are acres of land dotted with – and buildings chock-full of – historical displays and demonstrations that bring the folks of this year in the 21st century back to the ways of yesteryear – if only just for a couple of days.

The Butterfield Steam & Gas Engine Show made its debut at Voss Park as a one-day event in 1967. Members of that first Butterfield Threshermen’s Board included Wayne Kispert, president; Frank Harder, secretary; John Ekstrom, treasurer; along with Wayne R. “Bink” Hanson, Ed Streich, Otto Wolner, Art Ommodt and John Pankratz.

An estimated 15,000 folks came out that year to watch the old-style threshing. Voss Park has hosted the Bee every year since then. The non-profit event was changed to a two-day event the following year, 1968. It is coordinated by dozens of volunteers each year and has grown beyond the threshing by leaps-and-bounds.

This year’s 48th Bee was began on Friday afternoon, August 15 and wrapped up late Sunday afternoon, August 17. This year’s featured tractors were International Harvester, with a focus on the McCormick Farmall; the Farmall M appearing on the Bee button. The Nash Ramble was this year’s centerpiece in the Auto Museum.

Today’s nine-member Butterfield Threshermen’s Association Board include President Howard Madson, Vice-President Doyle Janzen, Treasurer Dave Buhler, Secretary David Harder and Directors Mike Hall, Bruce Koenig, Jim Lepp, Steve Ringen and Jim Nasman.

Below, the Cross-Counties Connect photo gallery from the 2014 Butterfield Threshing Bee continues:


alyssa nesmoe tractor pull
THANKS TO MOM-in-law Linda Nesmoe for capturing Alyssa Nesmoe’s first-ever tractor pull experience. Alyssa participated in the Friday, August 15 Butterfield Threshing Bee Tractor Pull. Alyssa and her Allis-Chalmers pulled 265′ – good enough for 4th-place in 4500 antique stock. (Photo courtesy of Linda Nesmoe)


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ALONG THE SHORE of Butterfield Lake is the log cabin. The cabin was brought to Voss Park in 1988 from the Nibbe farm. It was originally built around 1875 by Lars Hanson and was discovered by Arnold and Thea Carlson in 1932 when they were doing some remodeling and found the cabin walls under the siding. The cabin includes the main floor – which made up the kitchen, living room, dining room and parents’ bedroom. There is also a loft that would be the bedroom for the children. Outside the Cabin is a corral that was built by Bruce Koenig. During the Bee, Robin Koenig is busy cooking meals for her family over the fireplace, or perhaps doing some sewing and stitching.


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A VIEW IN sepia of the same photograph, giving it an aura of how it would have been photographed shortly after being built. Sepia photography was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sepia toning, making a picture look old, weathered, rusty and antique-looking with a reddish-brown tone, is done when a photographer artificially washes over an image with a color to create a warmer effect. Sometimes the goal is to make the photo look like an old photograph — evoking a sentimental feeling, as if recalling a faded memory from long ago.


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MAGGIE. SCHWAB OF New Ulm was found hard at work on a chair caning project in Engine House No. 1


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WORKING THE PEDAL on the spinning wheel – bare-footed – is Shelly Monsen. This display/demonstration is held each year in Engine House No. 1.


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In Pioneer Town is the pioneer church, which has made Voss Park its home since 1970. Built in 1900, it was formerly the First Presbyterian Church in Butterfield. It closed in 1969 when a replacement pastor could not be found. The old hymn books in the hymn racks are the ones the congregation used years ago. In 2007, Laura Belle Ogren and Brian Girard were married in the church.


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ANITA FALK GREETS Bee visitors to the Mennonite houses. Built in 1871, the house is a “museum” to the life of the late 19th century Mennonite immigrants. Aron Peters was the original owner of the house. Peters and his family immigrated to America in 1865, and bout the home in 1880. The house was moved to Voss Park in 1973. Behind the house is a summer kitchen, used for cooking during the summertime heat so that the house would remain cool.


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IN THE STEAM power house, there are 12 steam engines running off a boiler at the back of the building, including this porter engine. The engine sports a 9″ bore, with a 12″ stroke. It was built in the late 1800s and installed in a railroad roundhouse in Fairmont to provide power for the machinery. In the early 1920s, it was purchased by Carleton College in Northfield, where it ran a large blower connected to the chimney to provide draft for the boilers. The engine remained in service until about 1940. It was donated by James Machacek.


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MARLIN HAMILTON OF Sanborn hammers out a “glowing” miniature horseshoe in the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith was integral to the farmer who might need to have him shoe a horse, sharpen plow shares or make repairs to a machine.


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IVAN THIESSEN USES broom straw, broom handles and twins to make an eclectic array of brooms at the broom factory. Work for the factory starts long before Bee weekend. Albert Thiessen of Butterfield started the factory and it is now operated by his son, Ivan, along with Ivan’s wire, Sherrill Thiessen.


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PASSENGERS WAITING AT the Granada Depot have been loaded on the miniature train and are just heading out through the “covered bridge” for a ride around the northern rim of Voss Park. The engine for the train is a Chicago & Northwestern switch engine.


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RAKKI PETERSON, LEFT, visits with his sister-in-law, Joyce Peterson, right, outside the Slaalien livery barn. Joyce is making sure the saddle on the sawhorse is kept soft and pliable by polishing it with saddle soap.


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INSIDE THE LIVERY barn, Diane Peterson and Dudley Do- Wrong welcome guests. The livery barn gets its name from Hans Slaalien, a Norwegian pioneer who immigrated in 1892 to America at the age of 20. This barn is a copy of Slaalien’s barn, and was built in 1983 by d. Alvin Penner and volunteers, using a photograph of the original livery.


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A LOOK OUT the window of the livery provides a view of a water pump as well as antique carriages, cutters and sleighs. In addition to having the livery, Slaalien rented out the carriages, cutters and sleights; brought passengers to-and-from the train; pick up freight at the train station and bring to the livery for customer pick-up and cared for teams of horses while the owners did business or shopping in town.


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A SEPIA LOOK out the livery window as if the photograph was taken during the heyday of the business – the town appearing beyond the livery.
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TOM PAIGE OF Brookings, South Dakota, has brought his collection of small-size gas engines to the Butterfield Steam & Gas Engine Show now for quite a few years. These types of gas engines were not only used in the field and barn, but also in the farmhouse. They were used for tasks like doing the laundry, shucking corn and helping grind the grain into feed for the livestock.


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THIS INTERNATIONAL KEROSENE engine in Paige’s entourage is busy grinding grain into feed for the livestock.


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RYAN BLOMGREN, FRONT and Andy Pierson, back, are kept busy making the homemade ice cream for the Speedway Builders 4-H Club’s ice cream stand.


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ENJOYING THAT COLD treat is “lefty” Drew Bernsdorf. But, he is still willing to  share it with his grandma, Janine Penner. Drew is the son of Chris and Hilary Bernsdorf of Hokah, Minnesota.


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TAKING TO THE BEE Voss Park Stage on Friday evening, August 15, was Plaid Get-Up. from left, Jake Johnson, Taylor Egeland, Megan Johnson and Hunter Quiring. (Photo courtesy of Tom and Cindy Quiring)


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ONSTAGE SATURDAY AFTERNOON, August 16, were The Bee Kays, a second- and third-generation family of musicians from Martin County. Their repertoire includes songs from the 1950s through contemporary country and a mix of bluegrass, country, western, polkas, waltzes, gospel and pops music. Group members include Travis Kittleson, Biny Claussen, Billye Kruse, Bryon Kittleson, Betty Egan and Cindy Nelson.


home grown
SATURDAY NIGHT MUSIC on the Voss Park Stage was sparked by the local talent, “Home Grown” -plus. From left, Karen Hiebert on piano and vocals, Jennie Romsdahl on banjo and vocals, Nathan Haseman, Brianna Wenner, Annie Lindquist Payseur, Shelby Haseman on guitar and vocals, Laura Romsdahl on mandolin and vocals, Bailey Jo Haseman and David Lindquist on guitar. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Haseman)


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POPPING UP THE a few of the traditional 100 pounds of popcorn used during the Bee at the St. Olaf/Zion Crusaders’ popcorn stand are Leon Wenner, left and Sherri Steinbrink, right.


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THIS YOUNG MAN is cranking his way to the conclusion of his rope-making project at the ropemaking demonstration. This display was begun in 1972 by Alice Wentzlaff and her brother, Clifford Mork. Today, the Koenig brothers, Craig and his sons Matthew and Karl and George, along with James Jacoby and sons Todd and Tim, create the ropes. Assisting are Brian Helling and Pete Poulson. The twine – color of choice – is strung from the rope maker that consists of a lever and gears, to a small hand tool with small notches held by one of the workers.


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THE LEFSE-MAKING was done early for the day on Saturday – but the secret recipe remained, nailed to a tree nearby the lefse booth. This Norwegian treat is made each year on a cook stove donated by Ida Hunstad. Lefse is a type of thin bread, like a crepe, that is most often served with butter and sprinkled sugar. It is grilled on a special pan and turned with a flat stick. The stand usually turns out 800 servings of lefse during the Bee. Crew members include Crew Chief Keith Hanson, Marge Hanson, Deb Hanson, Kristy Haseman, Shelby Haseman, Bailey Jo Haseman, Jessica Arechigo and other relatives and friends.


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A LOOK AT one of the two streets that comprise Pioneer Town. At left is the General Store, with its shelves – from floor-to-ceiling – as well as its counters, filled with merchandise from the past. At right is the Hollenitsch Drug Store. The Hollenitsch family opened a drug store in Butterfield at the turn of the 20th century.


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FOLLOWING THE ANTIQUE tractor, truck and automobile parade on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, refreshing vanilla ice cream cones are sold through the north window of the drug store – with Joyce Peek one of those busy dishing up the sweet treat. Usually about 3,000 cones are sold every year during the Bee.


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A PEEK INTO the District #12 Schoolhouse, a one-room school originally from the Odin area. Eight grades were taught in the school. Before the school was built, Odin children attended makeshift schools in homes. This schoolhouse, built in 1879, was two miles east of Odin. The last year students attended classes in the school was 1968. In the nearly 90 years class was in session in the school, there were 65 different teachers. The cost of the original school was $100 – plus $179.15 for chairs, books, desks and other school items. Kerosene lamps lit the school before electricity arrived in 1941. The first teacher hired for the school, Frank Buoyne, was paid paid $24 a month. Buoyne, in turn, paid $20 a month for room and board. The children spoke Norwegian at home – so had to learn English at school. Since students had to also do farm work, their ages ranged from six-years-old to age 23. The first certified teacher was hired in 1910.


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TAKING PART IN the vehicle parade was Clark Fast with his International 1206. As you can see from the sign out front – it for sale.


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AS THIS YEAR’S saluted tractor, there were rows-and-rows of red – International Harvester and McCormick-Deering Farmall tractors.


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AS A BEE visitor in the foreground glances at a newsprint guide to the Threshing Bee – while sitting on planks of lumber – backed by Jim Nasman and his 24-h.p. Minneapolis that features a distinctive red water tender as a huge hood ornament – the interconnection should not be lost.


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THAT INTERCONNECTIVTY is also linked to the work done in the saw mill. The Minneapolis is belted up to power the saw mill which cuts the wood, and that lumber can be broken down and used to create that newsprint.


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RIGHT NEXT TO the saw mill, Erland Wiens of Lewiston demonstrates this saw rig. It was purchased in northern Wisconsin as a front-mount to be used as a portable unit. It was modified to be used as a free-standing unit – and can be used both ways. A side table and shield for the blade were added as safety precautions. Powering the rig is a 1950 John Deere Model B – believed to be the first purchased and used in Iowa. It was purchased by Wiens’ uncle, Ted Peters of Delft, and was newly purchased and repainted by Defries Collision Center in Windom in 2013. Wiens is a graduate of Butterfield-Odin Public High School, and with him at this year’s Bee were his brothers – Leon (taking photos for posterity in the background) and Peter.


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HERE IS UNCLE Ted Peters, left, the original owner of this 1950 John Deere Model B – and his nephew, Erland Wiens, who has kept the spirit alive.


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ONE OF THE big gas engines owned by Chris Kabele, located in the Big Engine House. This a 60 h.p. Pattin, is a one-cylinder, 4-cycle gas engine with compressors mounted at the back. It was used to collect natural gas from small oil wells. It came from a little place called Wingert Run, Ohio.


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A COUPLE OF Rumely Oil Pull gas tractors on display.


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POWERED BY A belted Case tractor, pitchforks of straw is fed into this machine . . .


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. . . AND THE MACHINE does the rest – compressing the straw into bales and wrapping each bale with twine. Jim Hoffman is operating the vintage baler.


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A FATHER AND his children have a soft sit in the straw pile as they observe the straw baler doing its thing.


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THE WORK OF this team of horses – owned by Bruce Koenig – is over the day; they have completed their task of pulling a plow to turn over the land.


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BACKED BY THE group, “Building Butterfield Better,” St. James pilot, Ken Stradtman – and myself – took a fly-over photo-op of the Bee on Saturday afternoon, August 16, in Stradtman’s Mooney 201. Take-off and landing was from St. James Municipal Airport.


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DESPITE THE AIR being a bit hazy, activities at the Butterfield Threshing Bee cut through the haze with color and action. Above, one of the threshing rigs, powered by Nasman’s Minneapolis, is breaking down the small grain.


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YES, INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER red was in abundance in the display area south of Voss Park. IH was this year’s featured tractor.


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A LARGE ARRAY of other makes of tractors also strutted their stuff in a couple of additional display areas.


THE PEACEFUL LOCATION of the Tuberg homestead and Turberg mill, surrounded by evergreen trees and fronted by Butterfield Lake. The Turberg homestead, at the center of the photo, is more than 130-years-old and has been a Voss Park staple since 1974. Tuberg, who was actually born with the last name of Johnson in 1849, came to America from Sweden at the age of 20. When he arrived, he learned there were already six Andrew Johnsons in the area – and since he did not want to be the seventh – legally changed his name to Turberg. He eventually made it to Watonwan County, where he had heard the soil was rich. He chose Butterfield, and brought his Swedish bride to this new land. Tuberg’s education helped him build a mill, located at the right of the photo, which could grind the grain grown in the area. This mill is a replica, built in 1976. It wasn’t ready for use until 1977, as millstones had to arrive from West Virginia to make it operational (ironically, 100 years after the mill first began grinding grain). The original mill was located about five miles southeast of Butterfield. It served the area from 1877 to 1905. The Tuberg homestead was just northwest of the mill. The original millstones came from the Kasota quarry. Castings made in 1877 came from the Meyers Brothers foundry in Mankato from specifications Tuberg gave them. The Dutch-style windmill has a wingspan of 36′. Tuberg also had the tools to make coffins.


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BUTTERFIELD LAKE PROVIDES additional ambiance to the Butterfield Threshing Bee. A paved walking trail is found around the lake’s entire perimeter.


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AN AERIAL VIEW of the Granada Depot and passengers boarding the miniature train for a ride around the Voss Park tracks. The depot, which came originally from Granada, Minnesota, arrived at Voss Park in 1977. Granada, located about 25 miles southeast of Butterfield, was on the Milwaukee line. The Chicago-Northwestern served Butterfield for many years. On the wall inside the Depot is a plaque commemorating Bob Casey, a longtime depot agent for Butterfield. Casey was instrumental in teaching Butterfield young people about telegraphy. The engine for the train is a Chicago & Northwestern switch engine.


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BACK AT THE airport in St. James, and Ken Stradtman, left, is happy and proud to have taken another “newbie” on her first aerial photo shoot. Thanks for the unforgettable experience!
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