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Old-Fashioned Farming Celebrated at 49th Annual Threshing Bee

History: Tractor Pulls, Threshing Grain and Swap Meet Held at Annual Event

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TOLEDO — Dick Roberts, a hay farmer from Napavine, started his 1953 McCormick Farmall Super M tractor and rode it with a sledge hitched behind during the tractor pull competition at the 49th annual Cowlitz Prairie Grange Threshing Bee on Saturday afternoon.

Roberts was one of about 150 riders in the tractor pull event over the weekend.

The Threshing Bee, which took place Saturday and Sunday near the intersection of Buckley Road and Jackson Highway outside Toledo, offered participants multiple ways to show off their antique tractors and farming methods, including the tractor pulls and threshing grain with an old separator.

For Roberts, the Threshing Bee is a way for him to use the same 1953 tractor he used as a kid.

“I grew up in Harrah, Washington and we used that tractor,” Roberts said.

He now has 13 tractors on his 50-acre hay farm in Napavine.

Fred Schultz and his son-in-law Ken Clark, both from Woodland, brought back their 1906 tractor and ran it in the tractor pull. The steam engine tractor billowed plumes of smoke when it started and moved down the track using about 12-horsepower.

Schultz said he enjoys bring the antique tractor to the Threshing Bee each year because the tractor is often one of the few steam engines at the event.

“We got concerned they didn’t have any other steam engines,” Schultz joked.

Along with the tractor pulls Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Threshing Bee included 60 antique, craft and snack vendors.

The Threshing Bee also featured a money dive where youngsters dove into the straw left over from the threshing seperator to gather up to $100.

Jack Finzel, who came from Vernonia, Ore., to show his collection of antique tractor engines, said the Threshing Bee is a great opportunity to share his hobby of restoring engines.

“I like this event because it’s so informal,” Finzel said. “I came here for the swap meet and to see a lot of familiar faces that show up at other shows.”

On Saturday, Finzel was able to purchase a rare drag saw made in Tacoma in the 1940s.

“I’ll restore it and get it functioning,” Finzel, a retired welder and mechanic, said. “That’s my winter project.”

By Kyle Spurr / kspurr@chronline.com

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