Yesteryear Farm Show will be held Aug. 26-28

Most of us tend to marvel how quickly things change, how technology progresses at a rate difficult to follow and understand. Innovations in product design, materials, manufacturing methods, and the surge in development of electronics and software have touched all parts of our lives, agriculture included. Modern day farms operate much, much more efficiently as compared to the farms of the mid to late 1800s. Although modern day farming still requires an extensive amount of labor, still it is a much less physically demanding way of life than it once was. Consider the evolutionary advancement just in grain harvesting alone.

Although there are many details about who, what, when, and where, in 1834 Cyrus McCormick invented what is generally credited to be the first mechanical reaper. Prior to this, all grain harvesting was done manually. With this early reaper, grain was cut much more quickly than could be done by hand, but it had to be hand-raked off the reaper platform onto the field, later to be bundled and tied by hand. Many innovations followed, and with improvements from not only McCormick but others such as Obed Hussey, Joseph Boyce, C.W. and W.W. Marsh, this evolutionary progression resulted in much more efficient harvesting machinery. The first successful self-tie “grain binder” was patented in the 1870s by Chas. B. Withington. This eliminated the need to have several workers raking off the platform, bundling the grain, and then tying the bundles.

Other harvesting equipment being developed and implemented during this time frame included grain “headers,” machines that were horse (or mule) powered just as were the reapers. Headers were designed to allow the horses to be hitched behind the cutter bar and header mechanism, giving the appearance the horses were “pushing” the header instead of pulling it. This prevented the team from trampling the grain before it was cut. The grain headers cut only the heads of the grain, leaving the stalks in place in the field. The grain heads were delivered by a conveyor to an elevator which lifted the grain into what was called a “header barge” — essentially a slope-sided wagon.

Over the years there have been numerous manufacturers taking part in the changing of these technologies, although few of these survive today. Many designs and unique ideas were implemented, and obviously some were more successful than others. The bottom line, however, is the reapers, binders, headers, etc. all evolved into what is known today as a combine. The 21st century combine is a far cry from the Cyrus McCormick reaper. Today’s grain harvest essentially involves only the combine operator and a truck driver, as opposed to a reaper operator, one or more workers following to bundle, tie, and shock the bundles, and after a time of allowing the grain bundles to dry, having a crew load the bundles onto a grain wagon to transport to a threshing machine. Then, of course, the threshing itself had to be done. Harvesting time a century in the past was quite a lengthy, labor intensive operation.


So, what is the point of this brief history lesson? It is to interest you in seeing some of this early technology in farm equipment in operation. A group of volunteers in Boulder County, Colorado, host the Yesteryear Farm Show, an annual three-day event held at the Dougherty Museum south of Longmont, Colo., where demonstrations using antique farm machinery are conducted. We conduct threshing demonstrations daily using a grain threshing machine (separator), and then bale the left-over straw using a stationary hay press. (The grain will have been previously cut, shocked, and then loaded onto bundle wagons since we can’t do all this during the show).

Pictured are miscellaneous military vehicles that you will see at the Yesteryear Farm Show. Courtesy photo

There will also be demonstrations such as blacksmithing, displays of stationary engines powering pumps, shellers, etc. And we typically have displays of antique tools, farm implements of many varieties, antique tractors, cars, trucks, tracked vehicles, antique military equipment, vintage camping equipment displays, demonstrations of spinning and weaving, and many more items and displays of interest. You don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of farming to enjoy the Yesteryear Farm Show — you’ll find our displays and demonstrations are interesting and informative regardless of your background. Come check us out — the Yesteryear Farm Show is not just about farm-related interests, we have a very diverse group of exhibits.

What does it cost? There is no admission fee, and no parking fee.

Where is it? We are adjacent to the Dougherty Museum, which is located at 8306 N. 107th St. Longmont. In simpler terms, the Museum is about one mile south of Longmont on Hwy 287.

Who are the exhibitors? All who enjoy collecting, displaying, and demonstrating antiques of all sorts are invited to attend and exhibit at our show. You can bring your items to the show and leave them overnight, as we provide overnight security, beginning Tuesday evening, Aug. 23, continuing through Sunday evening, Aug. 28.

Hours? We are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Where can we stay? There are numerous motels nearby, and we offer free primitive camping on-site to exhibitors.

Food available? Yes, food and beverages will be available for purchase (no alcohol allowed).

What is the Dougherty Museum? The Dougherty Museum has a very impressive display of antique cars. It is billed as having “One of the finest collections of antique automobiles in the region.” This includes models powered by steam, electricity, and early internal combustion types. In addition to autos, there are items such as a 1928 American LaFrance fire engine, an 1867 Concord stagecoach, gas tractors, steam tractors, horse drawn farm equipment, pianos, organs, music boxes, etc.

Dougherty Museum fees? The Yesteryear Farm Show is free, but there is a modest fee to tour the museum: Kids up to age 6 are free, 6 to 12 are $3 per person, and adults are $8 per person.

Yesteryear Farm Show events:

Aug. 26

11 a.m.: Antique power cruise (an informal parade of power)

3 p.m.: Grain threshing demonstration, followed by stationary baling

6 p.m.: Antique parade — tractors, cars, trucks

Aug. 27

10 a.m.: Grain threshing demo, followed by stationary baling

11 a.m.: Antique power cruise

3 p.m.: Grain threshing demo, followed by stationary baling

4 p.m.: Exhibitor door prize drawing followed by a fundraising auction of donated items (public invited to participate)

6 p.m.: Antique parade — tractors, cars, trucks

7 p.m.: Free ice cream social

Aug. 28

10 a.m.: Grain threshing demo, followed by stationary baling

11 a.m.: Antique power cruise

1 p.m.: Antique parade — tractors, cars, trucks

In addition to the events listed above, there will be on-going working exhibits throughout each day, including numerous stationary engine displays, blacksmithing demonstrations, spinning and weaving by the Handweavers’ Guild of Boulder, etc.

Also check out the Yesteryear Farm Show Group on Facebook.

For more information contact Bob McCarty at (303) 330-3692 or Dave Brown at (303) 776-9859.


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