PEKIN, N.D. -- Wheat chaff spewed, smoke blew and the kitchen crew's hands flew as history came alive across Stump Lake Village Monday, Sept. 2, during the 24th annual threshing bee.
This is the 24th year the Nelson County Historical Society has held the Stump Lake Threshing Bee on Labor Day weekend. Larry Hoverson, Nelson County Historical Society president, was busy Monday overseeing the event which, besides the threshing demonstration, included breakfast, a tractor pull and a variety of exhibits, such as a sawmill, a flour mill and old-time engines.
Hoverson, like the other men and women helping at the threshing bee, volunteers his time and labor. He became a member of the Historical Society after doing some work on a building at Stump Lake Village, he said.
“They asked me to come down and do some Sheetrocking … and I never left,” Hoverson said with a laugh.
The Society uses proceeds from the threshing bee and donations from people to construct new buildings, make improvements on existing ones and do other upgrades, such as a new sound system, to make the event a good experience for visitors, Hoverson said.
This year, for example, a new concrete floor was poured in the Craft Building to make it handicapped-accessible, Hoverson said.
The activities at the threshing bee remain pretty much the same from year-to-year, but each year, there are different vintage farm tractors for threshing bee visitors to view, he said.
“It changes all the time. They comment everything is different from year-to-year,” Hoverson said.
“The old tractors, I enjoy that. We come every year,” said Glenn Fossen, who drove from Lakota, N.D., with his wife, Diane, to the threshing bee.
Besides seeing the old tractors, the couple enjoy visiting with people, beginning their day at the Thresherman’s Breakfast, Diane Fossen said.
Nelson County Historical Society volunteers start making the breakfast at 6 a.m. both days of the threshing bee; they served 820 people on Sunday, Sept. 1. The Thresherman’s Breakfast buffet line was busy again Monday morning as volunteers heaped visitors' plates with scrambled eggs, sausage and pancakes.
Across the village yard from the breakfast building, Larry Hulstrand and his threshing crew were demonstrating the old-time way to harvest wheat.
“We cut a couple of acres out in the field with the binder,” said Hulstrand. “We haul it in on wagons.”
Harold Severson, 89, was Hulstrand’s threshing consultant, watching from his pickup truck as Hulstrand prepared to fire up the machine.
“He taught me how to run it,” Hulstrand said.
Speed and wind direction are key to threshing, Severson said, noting that it’s difficult to thresh into the wind. Severson, a retired farmer, recalled working on a threshing crew as a teenager in the 1940s
“We would load the racks and bring them to the machine,” Severson said. “It was hard work.”
But he didn’t mind it.
“It was fun as a kid,” he said.
While Severson reminisced about farming during his youth, Alec Reinhart, 18, the Nelson County Historical Society’s youngest lifetime member, was showing Stump Lake Threshing Bee visitors on Monday how a rock grinder works.
Reinhart began volunteering at the Stump Lake Village four years ago, spending time there every Thursday since.
“I paint buildings, I fix motors, restore a lot of tractors; whatever needs to be done, Reinhart said. “I think it’s great stuff. It’s a blast to work with.”