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Engines of the Past

Will County Threshermen's show delights tractor fans of every age

CHANNAHON, Ill. — Tom Runty, of Maple Park, Ill., has been coming to the Antique Tractor, Steam Engine and Gas Engine Show since its origin in 1962.

"I was at the first show as a spectator," he said. "We went to church, went to my grandmas for lunch and then went to the field (to watch)."

But after a few years went by, he began to get involved and show his owns machines, as well as help family members show their engines. Fifty years later, Runty is still attending the same show with his wife, son and grandchildren.

The Will County Threshermen's Association held their 50th annual Antique Tractor, Steam Engine and Gas Engine Show at Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon this past weekend. Next year, the 51st annual, will be held at the Round Barn Farm in Manhattan, Ill.

"We have a good time," Runty said about attending the shows with his family.

Runty was running his 1913 Port Huron Steam Engine, one that used to run a sawmill in Cuba, Ill. He bought the engine in 1999, but spent five years restoring it before it was operational.

"It was worn out," he said about the engine when he bought it.

Now, the engine is a show engine.

He has been bringing the Port Huron Steam Engine to Dollinger Family Farm every year since the Will County Thresherman's Association moved their show to Channahon. He said he is very familiar with Manhattan and believes next year's move is a wise one for the association.

"I grew up on a farm out there, about a half a mile as the crow flies," he said.

Runty was looking forward to good weather throughout the weekend and getting the chance to spend time with his grandchildren.

Zachary, Cole and Reid Maranowicz, of Plainfield, Ill., were looking forward to seeing all the machines, however.

"My sister and I grew up in Iowa on a farm," the boys' mother, Belinda, said. "My kids love tractors, so we came out to see the old tractors."

Cole said his favorite part of the weekend was going to be "seeing the tractors."

But there was plenty more to do after he saw them, though.

Spectators of all ages could find something at the farm throughout the weekend. For the kids, pedal tractor pulls, magic shows and a petting zoo were the highlights of the show.

For the adults, their own tractor pull, the Parade of Power and demonstrations on harvesting the field, threshing and shelling were featured. There was also a flea market and craft show.

Dave Boughton and his wife Nancy have been coming for about two decades to sell items like jewelry, paper products and sometimes antique pieces at the show.

"We look forward to talking to all the people," Dave said about the countless people he and his wife encounter at events such as this.

To learn more about the Will County Threshermen's Association and their history, visit

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