There was a renewed air of excitement encircling the 46th annual edition of the Midale Pioneer Echoes celebration this past weekend.
The traditional salute to farming and ranching pioneers went forward without a hitch or glitch on Aug. 17 and 18, one month after the event had to be postponed due to unavailability of volunteers in July.
This time there were enough to go around and attendance figures were strong for both days under near ideal weather conditions.
Some of the more ancient farm equipment, left dormant for years due to mechanical failures, was brought back to life thanks again to volunteers and skilled mechanics such as Glen and Lyle Stomp of Griffin who were joined by others to make the big engines restart and power up once again.
John Tysse of Crosby, N.D., who is instrumental in helping that community's annual pioneer event move forward in a positive fashion, was on hand for the Midale event, a guest of Kelly Tytslandsvik, another technician with a knack for making old machinery come to life.
An old and huge oil pull Rumely tractor that had been purchased by Clyde Hall and refurbished by Lyle Stomp at his Fillmore garage was a featured piece of equipment this year after standing unused for a few years ... parked between the storage sheds on the Midale grounds.
Stomp, who made his way to Midale again this year along with his father Glen, proudly displayed a 1929 McCormick-Deering 2236 tractor.
Stomp is a true fan and supporter of pioneer shows and the equipment shown at them. After Midale he was off to another show in Minnesota. The Rollage show is one of the major ancient farm equipment shows in the U.S.
“They hold it on 50 acres, about 40 miles east of Fargo. It's a four day event that features locomotives as well as farm equipment and sawmills. They even have tugboats on display,” he said.
One group, including Stomp, took to the fields to set a new world record for plowing with 66 bottoms of plow using five old oil pull tractors, similar in power and scope, at a similar show in Austin, Man.
There was a display of 50 steam tractors that were out on the field at Rollage at the same time. They co-ordinated a one-blast whistle blow during one stage that could be heard in Fargo.
On Saturday and Sunday in Midale, the oil pull Rumely was put into action, doing a little plowing work of its own while other ancient threshing equipment was hauled out and put into action to separate the grain from the stalks, creating a small straw pile in the process.
Restoring the old Rumely was a labour of love since many of the parts had to be recast to make the restoration 100 per cent authentic, said Stomp.
The history behind the old tractor is also well recorded since it was purchased new for the Porter Land Co. in 1912, and that company, located near Weyburn, is still active today with great grandsons and grandsons still involved in its operation, he said.
“They have pictures of it at work right around that time,” said Stomp.
So preserving history and historical artifacts of previous farming practices is still alive and well, but one farm veteran said during the threshing demonstration he wondered how many more years it could continue without young people getting more involved to learn the little tricks and mechanical manipulations that needed to be made to keep the old machinery running.
“We like to entertain them with this stuff, but we wonder if they're even interested in learning how it works?” he said with a grin as he shuffled off to view the plowing demonstration.
In the meantime, visitors to the show toured the pioneer village, ate fried bread dough sprinkled with sugar, consumed some saskatoon pie and ice cream or simply visited the concession both for their food requirements before visiting the flea market or viewing the parade of old tractors and other equipment and antique automobiles.
On Sunday there was an ecumenical church service on the grounds, making good use of the old church that is an integral part of the pioneer village.