The threshers were here

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Golden oats and wheat; Golden anniversary

For the 50th year, the threshers were here.

It was back in 1967, the Butterfield Steam & Gas Engine Show made its debut at Voss Park. That first year, the Bee was just a one-day event. 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.

That first show was a tremendous success as attendance, with an estimated 15,000 people on hand. Voss Park has hosted the Bee every year since then. The non-profit event was changed to a two-day event in 1968. It is coordinated by dozens of volunteers each year and has grown beyond the threshing by leaps-and-bounds.

This year, the 50th-annual edition was held, beginning on Friday afternoon, August 19 and continuing through Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21.

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

In a blast from the past, the tractor that “started it all” back in 1967 – the 65-horsepower Case steam engine – was the featured tractor, proudly emblazoned on the Bee button.

 

 

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THIS IS THE 1916 65-horsepower Case steam engine that was the main attraction at the third Threshing Bee. It was used as a floor engine in the branch office of the Case Company in Minneapolis until 1922, when it was sold as new. Although the name of the original owner is not known, a Mr. Egness of Frost used the engine for sawing lumber and threshing in that area of Minnesota for many years. Otto Wolner purchased it in 1958, and restored it. Later, Wayne “Bink” Hanson – an original Butterfield Threshermen’s Association (BTA) Board Member – bought it it. The BTA now owns the steam engine and it remains a permanent structure at Voss Park.

 

 

Meanwhile, the featured antique vehicle was a redone fuel truck with a deep Butterfield history:

 

 

1948 Chevrolet Loadmaster fuel truck. Owned by Keith Pankratz, originally owned by Jacob F. Stoesz, (Keith's Great-Grandfather) who founded Butterfield Oil Co., and the D-X gas station in Butterfield. This particular truck was used to deliver bulk fuel in the Butterfield area from 1948 to 1960.
THE FUEL TRUCK, now owned by Keith Pankratz of Butterfield, was originally owned by Jacob F. Stoesz (Keith’s great-grandfather) who founded Butterfield Oil Company and the D-X gas station in Butterfield.This particular truck was used to deliver bulk fuel in the Butterfield area from 1948 to 1960.

 

 

KEITH PANKRATZ IN the refurbished fuel truck.
KEITH PANKRATZ IN the redone fuel truck.

 

 

Below are more shots from the photo gallery honoring the Bee’s golden anniversary:

 

 

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SATURDAY RAINS DAMPENED the threshing, keeping this Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company of Hopkins separator, owned by the family of P. K. Laingen, idle. Antique steam tractors – like the Case – provided the power to the separator rigs.

 

 

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HOWEVER, CREWS WERE hard at work baling the straw.

 

 

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THESE HAY BALES made for a perfect perch from which to sit and survey the Bee surroundings.

 

 

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IN THE LOG CABIN, portraying early life on the prairie, are Isaac Striemer, standing, and Elizabeth Englin, seated at right doing some needlework. The cabin was donated by the Nibbe family. During Bee days, cooking is done using the fireplace. The upper loft of the cabin – reached by using the log ladder at back right, was the pioneering family’s shared bedroom. Arnold and Thea Carlson, who lived in the cabin from 1932-1977, initially discovered it when they remodeled their home in Long Lake Township of Watonwan County and found the cabin’s frame within the siding. Following research work, the Nibbe family learned that in 1873, Lars Hanson, a Civil War veteran, had bought 80 acres of land from the United States government. He built this cabin on that land around 1875. In 1888, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Koester raised a family of three sons in the cabin.

 

 

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BABETTE KOLLASCH GETS some cuddle time with one of the two-week-old goats in the Children’s Barn. The mom of the quadruplets (two boys, two girls) is Brittany. The goats were courtesy of Countyline Boer Goats, and their owner, Baylee Jepsen. And . . . they’re looking for names! (Dan and Mike Hall provided the corn cob bedding for the barn.)

 

 

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INSIDE THE FRONT room of the Tuberg Homestead. The Tuberg Homestead is more than 130-years-old, and has been at Voss Park since 1974. Tuberg, whose name name was originally Johnson, was born in 1849 and came to the United States from Sweden when he was 20. When he arrived in the area, he discovered there were already six “Andrew Johnsons.” He did not want to the be seventh, so he legally changed his surname to Tuberg. He took the train from New York City and made it west to St. Peter. From there, he walked to Jackson. His goal was to buy some land in Watonwan County because he had heard the soil was rich. He selected Butterfield, and then brought his Swedish bride to make the area their home. The house was home to a family with five children. The children reached the second-floor bedroom by climbing up the stairs on the outside of the house. Tuberg built a mill which could grind the grain grown in the area. He also had tools to make coffins.

 

 

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LEOTA HALL QUIRING, of Mountain Lake, in her corner of Engine House No. 1, busily creating corn husk dolls. Early settlers in this country learned that the Senecas made corn husk dolls for their children. Leota learned the skill many years ago from Helen Harder of Butterfield. All proceeds of corn husk dolls and doll sets, wreaths, etc., goes to the Butterfield Threshing Bee.

 

 

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CANDY TAFT, A member of Storden’s Stitch in Time, demonstrates traditional rug-hooking.

 

 

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HAROLD QUIRING, LEFT, and Cleo Erickson, right, spread hand-churned butter on crackers for a taste treat.

 

 

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IT’S THE “LITTLE Dipper,” Kathy Leopold, daughter of the “Big Dipper” – or “Lady in Pink” – Joyce “Ma” Peek, dishing up an ice cream cone at the Hollenitsch Drug Store window. The Hollenitsch family opened a drug store in Butterfield at the turn of the century.

 

 

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A TOP HAT for gentlemen – and plenty of fancy hats for the ladies – stuffed shelves in the General Store. The top hat belonged to A. R. Voss, the mane who donated the land for Voss Park to the City of Butterfield.

 

 

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A PEEK INTO the window of Walt’s Barbershop to see if the “chair” is busy. Walter Bedford bought out John Kob and started Walt’s Barbershop in Butterfield in 1934. He continued clipping hair at the same location for 50 years, retiring in 1984. Walt was a native of Sherburn and worked for a time in Mountain Lake. He met his wife, Barbara Helvig, of Butterfield, at an early Mountain Lake Pow Wow, and the two were married in 1929. Walt passed away in 1993.

 

 

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SCHOOLMARM BECKY GILBERTSON, left, presents a special art project to her “students” in the District 12 School. this one-room school is originally from the Odin area, and was located two miles east of Odin. Eight grades were taught in the building. Prior to the school’s construction in 1879, Odin children attended makeshift schools in homes.

 

 

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THE RECIPE FOR luscious lefse is nailed to a tree next to the booth.

 

 

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THE NORWEGIAN TREAT, lefse, is made fresh during the Bee, with samples sold to guests for just 10 cents. Ida Hunstad donated the cook store that is used to make the lefse. Keith Hanson, Ida’ grandson, is now in charge of organizing the work crew. Some of the experts include Marge Hanson, Deb Hanson, Kristy Haseman – and a new generation of young Hansons and Hasemans. Lefse is a type of thin bread – much like a crepe – that is usually served with butter and sprinkled with sugar. It is grilled on a special pan and turned with a flat stick. The lefse-makers usually make 800 servings during the Bee. Above, Deb Hanson flips the lefse to allow for the other side to grill.

 

 

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JIM NASMAN, A BTA Board Member usually found at the wheel of his 1920 Minneapolis 28-horsepower steam traction engine, or the 1910 Advance steam tractor, or the Rumely Oil Pull – takes a break to savor some steamed corn-on-the cob at the Watonwan Historical Society’s food stand. The corn was donated by Ken Ammann.

 

 

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CARVER CREEK PERFORMING on the Bee Stage. Carver Creek is a family band from Carver that plays bluegrass, gospel, old-time, Irish and early country music. The Monsen family has been coming to the Bee as long as they can remember. From left, Mary (fiddle) likes to hang out with the horses in the Livery, Tom (banjo, guitar, musical saw and whistle and Julie (bass, guitar) can be seen walking about whittling wooden chains, Sherry (on the guitar and mandolin) also spins wool in Engine House No. 1 and young Jim (percussion, mandolin and learning guitar), likes the playground equipment – and eating ice cream cones.

 

 

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WIDE LOAD FEATURES former “home-towners” Brian Langeland, originally of Butterfield, vocalist at front and Brad Hanson, once of Mountain Lake, on guitar and vocals, second from right. Their music includes favorites from country music’s golden ages of the ’60s and ’70s. The group has been making music together since 2000. At left on steel guitar is Randy Koenen, with Bob Pirie, second from left, on bass guitar. At far right, on guitar, is Joey Koenen and back, on drums, Kim Dostal.

 

 

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HELPING TO CHURN up another batch of homemade vanilla ice cream with the Speedway Builder 4-H Club’s original ice cream maker is club member Seth Pierson.

 

 

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IN THE SUMMER Kitchen behind the Mennonite House (which was built in 1871), grandma and granddaughter, Susan Anderson of St. James, right and Haley Birkholz of Mankato, left, remove some fresh-baked perischke from the brick oven. Early settlers kept their homes cool in the summer by doing all of their cooking and baking in a summer a kitchen – a separate building off the main house with open windows to let cooler air in. Pioneer women used corn cobs and prairie grass for fuel to head the brick oven. At the Bee, corn cobs are used. Heating the oven takes about a bushel-and-a-third of cobs. The brick oven was installed by the late George Rempel, under the guidance of Mrs. George Fast. Anderson’s parents, Justina and Mayo, along with Tina Fast and Anna Derksen and their niece, Erna, started the long history of the kitchen. Also helping in the kitchen are Marie Helferich, as well as Susan’s daughter and Haley’s mom, Emily Birkholz, along with Susan’s granddaughter and Haley’s sister, Macy Birkholz, both also of Mankato.

 

 

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LOGAN HOWE POUNDS away on a miniature horseshoe at the Blacksmith Shop. In years past, the blacksmith was of utmost importance to the farmer who might need him to shoe a horse, sharpen plow shares or make repairs to one of his machines.

 

 

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LOREN HICKS CREATES another broom in the Broom Factory. Money made by the factory goes to the BTA. The first step in making a broom is attaching the broom straw to the handle using wire while rotated on a manual or electric kicker. Broom-makers operate the machine by using a foot pedal, leaving their hands free to guide the broom. A vise holds the unfinished broom while the stitching is done, as Hicks is doing above. The final step is trimming the straw to the proper length.

 

 

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OUTSIDE THE SLAALIEN Livery Barn, Joyce Peterson rubs some saddle soap into a well-worn saddle in order to restore the leather. The livery gets its name from Hans Slaalien, a Norwegian pioneer who emigrated to this country in 1882 at the age of 20. The Voss Park livery was build in 1983 by the late D. Alvin Penner and a group of volunteers using a photograph of the original Slaalien barn. Slaalien, who settled south of Butterfield in 1891 with his Norwegian bride, rented sleighs, cutters and a carriage, and also charged 15 cents to bring passengers from the train depot to the center of town. He would also pick up freight at the train station and bring it back to the livery for customers to pick up. His duties additionally included the care for teams of horses while the owners conducted business or shopped. They had 13 children, one who died in infancy – 10 girls and three boys. Slaalien died during a 1929 snowstorm. His body – most fittingly – was taken to the cemetery by horse and wagon because of snow-drifted conditions.

 

 

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CONDUCTOR DUWAYNE FALK of Mountain Lake punches the train tickets of passengers riding the rails. the engine for the train is a Chicago & Northwestern (CNW) switch engine.

 

 

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THE VIEW OF a rider of the train engine and its engineer; today, Larry Falk of Mountain Lake.

 

 

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A TRAIN “SELFIE” of a regular rider – and a first-time-ever passenger.

 

 

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NO MATTER THE age . . . the passion persists.

 

 

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THIS YOUNG MAN enjoying his ice cream, while parked in the “in charge” seat of this scale model Rumely Oil Pull tractor, Ben Harris, is just getting hooked on a life-long love affair with tractors – from vintage to the new models.

 

 

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A TRACTOR LINE-UP in the Ed Lammers and Art Ommodt Tractor Shed – from the John Deere Waterloo Boy to the Titan 10-20 – and many, many more.

 

 

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HE WAS THERE at the start in 1967 – and is still there in 2016 – 50 years later. One of those who brainstormed and produced the Threshing Bee, Wayne “Bink” Hanson of Mountain Lake, continues to makes his way (now by golf cart) out to where the antique tractors are parked in order to make certain the old rigs “fire” for the Antique Tractor and Vintage Vehicle Parade.

 

 

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SOMEONE ELSE WHO has been to all 50 Threshing Bees – and has made certain that he sits in the same spot for the parade over all five decades (because, “It is the best place”) is 82-year-old Albert Prahl of St. James.

 

 

 

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