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Local

Losing Steam

Threshermen's Association begins final act at Dollinger's

Cal Vandenburg, of Shorewood, starts up his 1956 720 John Deere Diesel tractor  Thursday during the Antique Tractor, Steam Engine, and Gas Engine Show at Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon. Vandenburg rescued the tractor from a pile of weeds in Volga, South Dakota where it sat for over 25 years. He had it restored at Benson Tractor Restoration in Morris.
Cal Vandenburg, of Shorewood, starts up his 1956 720 John Deere Diesel tractor Thursday during the Antique Tractor, Steam Engine, and Gas Engine Show at Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon. Vandenburg rescued the tractor from a pile of weeds in Volga, South Dakota where it sat for over 25 years. He had it restored at Benson Tractor Restoration in Morris.

CHANNAHON — The Will County Threshermen’s Association on Thursday began its final Antique Tractor, Steam Engine and Gas Engine Show to be held at Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon.

The show will be held in Channahon this weekend through Sunday, July 22, but starting next year, the association will take their tractors and engines to the Round Barn Farm in Manhattan, Ill.

"The Dollingers have been very accommodating," said Joe Martin, first-year club president, about the seven years the WCTA has been hosted at Dollinger Family Farm.

Martin, however, said the association has been looking into the Round Barn Farm for about three years, but the decision was ultimately left up to a membership vote.

"The membership decided overwhelmingly to move over to the Round Barn Farm," Martin said.

Because the association is a Will County association and the Round Barn Farm is also in Will County, next year will be a homecoming for the members, Martin explained.

"We have been at five or six other locations over the course of our history, and now we're finally coming right back to where we started," the president said. "It's kind of an exciting thing for us."

The old buildings at the Manhattan farm will also create the ambiance of an antique farm, too, he said.

The Manhattan Park District, owners of the Round Barn Farm, have "unofficially" invited the WCTA indefinitely to the farm.

"A park district, by nature, is in the forever business," Martin said. "They don't just set up a park and then two years later decide they don't want a park there anymore. It's there forever."

Noreen Dollinger, owner of Dollinger Family Farm, said she will be sad to see the association go, but understands.

"Everybody makes changes," she said. "They are like my steam show family."

Dollinger was excited for the start of the weekend, though. She said there are "great and interesting" tractors on display and was looking forward to a great show.

"We always expect a big crowd," Dollinger said. "The club puts a lot of work into this."

Aside from the normal threshing demonstrations and tractor pulls, this year will also feature a comparison of machines. Martin said a combine, binder and threshing machine will be displayed side-by-side "so everybody can see the different components."

"A combine is a combined harvester," he explained. "What was combined into it was a binder and a threshing machine. So, basically, those two pieces of equipment were built together and (a motor was put on it) so it could go through the fields and do everything by itself."

He said demonstrations like those, and the shows in general, are important so the history of farming is not lost. It is the goal of the WCTA to preserve agricultural history and educate the community on it.

"It's important to us that the people come out to understand where their food came from in the past and how difficult it used to be before farming and mechanization got to where it is," Martin said.

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