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Annual show steams ahead

Dick Smith of Gridley puts more coal in his steam engine at the Threshermen's Reunion this week / CIFN photo.

PONTIAC – Those from near and far are stepping back in time this weekend during the Central States Threshermen’s Reunion near Pontiac, which is held annually in late summer.

Dick Smith of Gridley has his 1920 Keck-Gonnerman steam engine at the show. The rear-mount double cylinder machine was purchased by Smith in 1987 at a sale. He finished restoring it a year ago.

“This is only the second year it has been here at Pontiac,” Smith said Thursday morning.

Smith’s father built a half-scale engine which is on display at Threshermen’s Park. Smith was just six years old when his dad finished the engine and has shown an interest ever since. His father worked on numerous engines over the years as he operated a machine shop.

“He knew a lot about steam,” Smith recalled.

You can expect to see Smith on his steam engine if you attend the weekend festivities in Livingston County. He said he enjoys taking in the nice late summer weather, visiting with folks and working on the machine.

Threshermen’s President Dave Herz feels the Labor Day weekend tradition is truly a reunion year in and year out.

“We see people that we don’t see all year but as soon as we get here, we shake hands and that family thing comes back. It’s a great time,” Herz said.

Nothing would be possible without all of the board members and volunteers who come out to help set up and run machines. In fact, there are helpers who travel 200 miles every year just to be at the show.

“That family takes care of a whole lot of stuff and I can’t thank them enough,” added Herz.

Visitors this weekend won’t want to miss the big and small Prairie tractors which were used to bust sod around here and out west years ago. These are in addition to the featured brands of Oliver and Massey-Harris.

“It’s just amazing how many (Prairie tractors) are here – I was counting on around 20 but I think we are close to 30 or better right now.”

The Threshermen’s Reunion runs through Labor Day. Admission to the grounds is $8 per day with an annual membership fee of $20 available. Those 13 and under get in for free. Daily attractions include a general store, 1900 country school house, singer saw mill and 1910-era blacksmith shop.

The first show was held in 1949, making it the second oldest seam show in the country.

More details can be found at

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