Full steam ahead

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Wally Biernacki and his partner, Lis Balson, both from Orono (Ontario-Canada) enjoy sharing the history of steam engines and threshing machines. They travel throughout Canada and the U.S. educating the public about Biernacki’s ¼-scale Case traction steam engine and threshing machine, and they love meeting new people and old friends on the steam show circuit.

(Posted July 25, 2019)

By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer

Preserving the past for the education of the future is the new motto adopted by the Miami Valley Steam Threshers Association (MVSTA). Exhibitors at the 70th annual show and reunion held July 18 – 21 at Pastime Park in Plain City enjoyed educating the public about everything steam.

MVSTA President, Gary Gallimore, shared some history about the show.

“On a farm north of Troy, Ohio, half a dozen guys got their equipment out and played around with it, and that’s how it all began,” he said.

Having fun with farm equipment is what brings Unionville Center resident and exhibitor Toni Ankrom to the show every year.

“I’ve been coming to the Steam Threshers Show since I was 12, when it was at the Madison County fairgrounds,” said Ankrom. “Now, I’m bringing my daughter, Baleigh.”

The family’s 1940 John Deere H tractor turned heads.

Toni Ankrom of Unionville Center and her daughter, Baleigh, 7, ride their 1940 John Deere H tractor around Pastime Park in Plain City for the 70th Annual Steam Threshers Show and Reunion. The pink tractor was a hit with the crowd, and many people stopped them to take pictures. Baleigh chose pink for the tractor because it’s her favorite color and in honor of a grandmother she lost to breast cancer.

“When we bought the tractor, we asked Baleigh what color she wanted it painted, and she picked bright pink,” Ankrom said.

Baleigh likes pink, but she also picked the color in honor of the grandmother she lost to breast cancer.

Orono (Ontario-Canada) resident Wally Biernacki has attended the show for 20 years. He exhibits his Case traction steam engine and hand-fed threshing machine in Canada and the U.S., hoping that more young people like Baleigh will want to learn about steam threshers’ historic role in the farming of yesteryear.

“I love to play with steam,” he said. “We had a steam traction engine growing up on our farm. I burned my fingers a lot, but you learn. It’s a fascinating thing, because you can run this engine, sit in a room with it, and hear yourself think. That’s the beauty of steam – it’s very quiet running.”

Nate Seitz of Stoutsville is proud of the first piece of steam equipment he bought for his dad, Jack Seitz. The 10-ton Buffalo-Springfield Roller is impressive in size and is thought to have played a part in paving U.S. Route 23 from Chillicothe to Waverly.

Lis Balson, Biernacki’s partner, said, “Traction engines were the original farm tractors. Then they developed gas engines. During World War II there was a lack of gasoline. Diesel had to go to the war effort, so traction engines came back into service and fed the army through World War II.”

Vintage steam equipment paved the way to today, and the 10-ton Buffalo-Springfield steam roller owned by Jack Seitz of Stoutsville drew a crowd. His son, Nate Seitz, also of Stoutsville, exhibited the roller.

“I bought this for my dad,” he said. “He has wanted a steam anything for forever. This is our first piece of steam equipment.”

Seitz is looking up the history on the roller. He was told it paved Highway 23 from Chillicothe to Waverly. More recently, he put it to work when he rolled out a section of the dirt road near his exhibit spot.

Asa Schreck, MVSTA vice president, appreciated the smooth road as he drove his golf cart around the park, assisting exhibitors and show-goers.

“Do you see how smooth this road is after they rolled it?” he asked.

And that appreciation for what steam equipment has done and can do is what keeps steam aficionados coming back to the annual show and reunion.

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