Threshers' Reunion celebrates 40 years
DENTON, NC - No one dreamed that a rural fly-in would turn into one of the nation's largest agricultural events 40 years later and bring 60,000 people a year. Brown Loflin certainly didn't. But his zest and vision for celebrating history has made the Southeast Old Threshers' Reunion an outdoor classroom filled with farm life heritage.
The Reunion will be held from 8 a.m.- 9 p.m. June 30-July 4 at the Denton FarmPark in Denton, N.C.
And people will be sharing stories.
The Fly-In was a fund-raiser and brought in a number of planes, explains Loflin. "But after a time, we needed something for people to do while they were waiting on plane rides, so we brought in some steam engines. When safety became an issue, we discontinued the planes and focused on antique farm equipment. So we started the Threshers' Reunion. It was a natural. We could base a summertime event around the harvesting and threshing of wheat." You harvest winter wheat in summer. The idea took off.
"My kids grew up at the Reunion," says Susan Mullis. Normally, she's a production planner for a helicopter manufacturer in Monroe, N.C. But at the Reunion, she gives quilting classes and sewing demonstrations daily in the Craft Barn.
"We've been coming here for at least 27 years," she says. "You walk on the grounds and smell the steam, hear the train whistle, and a smile pops out. I want my children to know where things come from and learn a good work ethic. This is a weeklong family event for us."
Elliott Skeen, from Denton, has been attending the entire 40 years. He recalls, "When I was just 6 years old, I used to switch bags out on the threshing machine and got to blow the whistle. A couple of years later, I learned how to use a steam engine that powered the threshing machine. Oh, I love steam engines - the quiet sound and the powerful torque - with such a slow RPM in comparison to modern day engines. All you hear is the chucking sound out the smokestack."
Today, Skeen teaches volunteers to operate the engines, hoping that the skill will not be lost in future generations.
Educational demonstrations are held throughout the FarmPark daily. Mullis likes that people see learn about cooking, weaving, spinning, broom and basket making and other fundamental crafts that were used to provide for the family. "People today think you just get in the car and go to work. They don't know about stoking the boiler or working with a team of horses to get the job done."
And festival goers bring their tractors. At 4 p.m. each day, they proudly ride their blue Ford, green and yellow John Deere, orange Allis-Chalmers, and red Massey Ferguson - of all sizes and ages - in the tractor Parade of Power and toot their horns. It's truly a photo op and a ritual.
With the work comes the play - as bluegrass, country and gospel musicians take center stage at the large covered outdoor amphitheater. Riders in the Sky is this year's headline act on Saturday, July 3.
A special auction of pedal tractors and farm toys will be held on Friday, July 2 at 9 a.m. with the special consignment of pedal tractors and toys to be sold at 1:00 p.m. Consignments are welcome until 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 1.
The Adult & Kiddie Pedal Pull will be held on Saturday, July 3 at 10 a.m. A large fireworks display will be held on Sunday, July 4 at 9 p.m.
Admission is $14 for adults, $6 for children under 12 and free for preschoolers. Regular rides on the Handy Dandy are $5 for adults and $4 for children. Train rides with special programming are $6 for adults and $5 for children. There is no additional fee for concerts or activities. Parking is free.
Scooters, strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent just inside the Tunnel Gate and the South Entrance. Reservations are not required, but you may place one by calling 336-287-7715. Handicapped scooters are available for $35 rent for the day.
Trams provide transportation throughout the parking and camping areas. Vendors selling food, arts and crafts and equipment are set up along shaded pathways.
The Denton FarmPark is located at 1072 Cranford Road in Denton, N.C. near NC Hwy. 49 and NC Hwy. 109.
To learn more about the Reunion, visit Denton FarmPark on Facebook, http://dentonfarmpark.blogspot.com, www.threshers.com or call 336-859-2755.
2010 Threshers Entertainment Line-up
Wednesday, June 30
2 & 7 p.m. - Synder Family Band
3 & 8 p.m. - Marty Raybon
Thursday, July 1
2 & 7 p.m. - Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road
3 & 8 p.m. - Suzy Boggus
Friday, July 2
2 & 7 p.m. - Movin' on Bluegrass
3 & 8 p.m. - David Ball
Saturday, July 3
2 & 7 p.m. - Coyote Ridge
3 & 8 p.m. - Riders in the Sky - "America's Favorite Cowboys"
Sunday, July 4
1 & 6 p.m. - Redeemed Voices
2 & 7 p.m. - Trinity Quartet
3 & 8 p.m. - Karen Peck & New River