WMSTR blows the hot air of agriculture history
ROLLAG, Minn. (KVRR) – It’s been happening for 69 years.
The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion is an event farmers and machinery fans look forward to every Labor Day Weekend.
The theme every year is to show how people used steam to get the job done. The event is full of hot air. The good kind.
At the end of every summer, Rollag is turned into the tractor capital of Minnesota. It’s a tradition for many like Luke Steinberger who helped get Rumely to become the featured company for this year’s event by applying four years ago. He’s been coming to the Steam Threshers Reunion since he was one-year-old.
“We’ve put together what we feel is one of the better shows that we’ve seen,” Steinberger said.
Rumely is the definition of the American dream. Meinrad Rumely emigrated from Germany in 1848. He met up with his brother, John, in operating a foundry in La Porte, Indiana. Five years later, the company began manufacturing threshers and later steam engines. It was sold to Allis-Chalmers in 1931.
Rumely machines were used differently than its competitors by using oil in their radiators instead of antifreeze making it more cost effective.
“These tractors are able to utilize poor quality fuel and do a fine job of breaking the prairie,” Steinberger said.
It’s not just exhibitors who enjoy the event.
Swany White Flour Mills makes their products on site making it a learning experience for the crowd who’s always happy to support a Minnesota grown business.
“A lot of people want to know how this works. It’s a good weekend for me. I sell a boatload of stuff out here,” Gary Thelen said.
The company is located in Stearns County in Freeport, but has brought some of its history to Rollag.
“They moved that steam engine up here. That actually ran the mill in Freeport until the late ’60s or early ’70s,” Thelen explained.
If that’s not enough to get you all steamed up, the event showcases how steam-powered machinery helped out farmers and sawmilling and blacksmith demonstrations.
The Steam Threshers Reunion runs through Monday. Gates open at 6:00 A.M.