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February 21, 2020 - The Art and Fun of Farming

A threshing machine in operation. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Q: Sometime in the 1930s, a northeast Kansas farmer decided to invite people to his home, serve them food and give a demonstration of how his fancy farm machinery worked. The event was a big hit. So big, in fact, that it eventually became an annual festival that continues to this day in Jefferson County. What's the name of the farmer who started the McLouth Threshing Bee?

(Extra credit if you can tell us what "threshing" is!)

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A: Slim Watson

According to local legend, a McLouth area farmer named Slim Watson started what came to be called the McLouth Threshing Bee, one of the longest running Threshing Bees in the nation. Sometime in the 1930s, Slim Watson decided to invite people to his farm, serve them food and demonstrate how his fancy farm equipment and machinery worked. People loved it. So much so that he just kept on doing it, year after year. Around 1957, it became the annual event known as the McLouth Threshing Bee. The event helps to keep alive the art of planting, harvesting, threshing, and storing of grain forage crops. The Threshing Bee feature domestic arts, tools, implements, instruments and machinery that highlight the culture of the pioneer days. The educational and historical exhibits and displays are illustrated through reenactments with the working machinery. With the help of many volunteers, this annual event is organized and produced by the Heart of America Antique Steam Engine & Model Association.  

Answer to the Extra Credit Question: Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of grain from the chaff to which it is attached. It is the step in grain preparation after reaping. (Everyone still with us?) Threshing does not remove the bran from the grain. Threshing may be done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor. Traditionally, a Threshing Bee was an event in which local people gathered together to pitch in and get the season's threshing done. At least, that's what Wikipedia has to say. If you want a better answer, visit the McLouth Threshing Bee in September.   

The 63rd Annual McLouth Threshing Bee will be held September 18, 19 & 20, 2020.

Find more fun Kansas Trivia in #MyKPR's online archive of all things Kansas and all things trivial

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