Letter: Andover Threshing Show defines America

Farm Forum

America is defined in the heartland — defined specifically in South Dakota at the Andover Threshing Show.

For years, my wife and I have heard about the antique tractor parade, about the country setting, and finally, after a long drive from Star Valley, Wyo., we had the chance to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the machinery that once powered the plowing, cultivation and harvesting of America’s supply of food.

On Sept. 6, Gary and Linda Anderson (cousin) of Bristol ushered us onto the Andover grounds, where we eyed rows and rows of tractors from the 1950s, ’40s, ’30s and even the behemoth steam tractors used just after the turn of the 20th century.

Soon, a smoking, belching, black steam tractor was chugging down the road, the driver decked out in clothes resembling a railroad engineer. The helper was shoveling coal into the tinderbox to keep the boiler hot, and I imagined it was a train engine pulling a long line of boxcars across the plains, helping America become a connected continent.

Missing were the rails, of course, but this example of progressive farming in 1910 left me in awe and wonderment, and with a sense of pride for the accomplishments of the Midwest farmers.

I felt connected to the earth as the plowing and threshing exhibitions commenced.

Gary and Linda Anderson have lovingly maintained their farm and their collection of antique Ford tractors. The folks we visited with at the show were friendly, sincere and proud to be connected with farming. The three days we spent at the show were fun (driving tractors in the parade) and educational, and bolstered our faith in mid-America’s work ethic.

Thanks to Andover, the Anderson Family, the church, the old school, quilters, weavers, tractor lovers, cooks, vendors, and everyone involved with the show.

God bless Andover, and God bless South Dakota!

Joel and Billie Jean Monson

Thayne, Wyo.