For 29 years, the North Central Minnesota Farm and Antique Association has been holding the Threshing and Antique Show in Blackberry. Each year, the show gets bigger and better, thanks to the hard work of the members of the association. This year’s show, being held August 10 and 11, is bringing 1940’s farming life to the Blackberry community.
Begun in the spring of 1984, the North Central Minnesota Farm and Antique Association at its grassroots stage only had about a dozen families who were members. Their main goal was just to be an organization that collected and appreciated antique tractors.
“I was talking with some of my friends who were into farm equipment and we decided we needed an organization here,” said Jim Rodenberry, the president and one of the founders of the association.
A farm show was held the first few years of the association’s life, and the year 1987 brought in a grant from the Blandin Foundation that allowed the association to buy more acreage where they planted grain to thresh.
The association and its annual Threshing show have grown greatly since the 80’s. According to Rodenberry, the amount of member families has risen to around 100. The annual Threshing show itself has people from all over the area flooding the campground and the association’s grounds. The association’s property, now about 35 acres, is home to a plethora of unique antique farm equipment.
“If it’s old, we have it,” said Rodenberry.
The association’s pride and joy is a 110-year-old Case steam engine. They also are proud owners of a 1913 9030 Avery steam engine, one of the only 13 left in the world. One shed on the property houses the Baudette Power Plant; the actual engines used to power the town of Baudette in the early 1920’s. The Blackberry School sits prominently in the field with a newly constructed handicap accessible ramp and porch. The school is the oldest building in Blackberry and it once was at the southwest corner of the intersection by the cemetery. The school was built in the late 1800’s and is currently going under some interior renovations to make it visitor-ready for the Threshing Show.
The association also owns a saw mill and planer which they use to produce their own lumber that they in turn use for on-site projects. People in the area also donate to the association felled logs from summer storms. The association sells their surplus potatoes that they grow and makes straw bales while are also for sale.
Each May, fourth and fifth graders are bused over to the association’s grounds for an afternoon of educational fun. They are treated to threshing demonstrations, blacksmithing, sawmill demonstrations, and a saw dust pile hunt. In the winter, the Draft Horse Association offers sleigh rides for about $2 as a fundraiser for the Draft Horse Association.
This year’s Threshing and Antique Show is featuring a wide range of farm-related activities, demonstrations, and educational events. Farm equipment such as steam engines, gas engines, tractors, a sawmill, threshing equipment, farm tools, and a shingle mill will all be able to be viewed. More than 75 tractors will be hauled to the grounds for display. Threshing and draft horse demonstrations will be taking place during the weekend along with an Itasca Twirlers performance, a daily tractor parade, and various kids games and activities.
Also at this year’s show will be a bouncy house for the kids, donated by the Jacobson fire departments, a flea market in the front field, and an antique snowmobile display. There clearly is something for everyone to enjoy.
Admission for the Threshing and Antique Show is $10 for the whole weekend, with kids 12 and under free. A pancake breakfast will be served daily at 7 a.m. and food vendors will be set up and ready for business during the weekend. Camping is available for $10 a day for primitive camping and $20 for sites with electrical hookups. For more information about the show or the association in general, contact Jean Pride at 218-247-7350 or Jim Rodenberry at 326-1437.