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Old-time agriculture comes alive each year at Indiana State Fair

Slideshow: Pioneer Village keeps the history of farming alive.

The late Mauri Williamson was missing from Pioneer Village at the 2017 Indiana State Fair. But that didn’t stop crews of volunteers who worked with him for years make agriculture from the 1830s through the 1960s come alive again. Wheat was threshed, straw was baled, logs were sawed into lumber, cows were milked, fodder was cut into silage and much more.

Wayne Dillman, a past Indiana Prairie Farmer Honorary Master Farmer, former farmer and former lobbyist for both Indiana Farmers Union and Indiana Farm Bureau, was often the man with the microphone, explaining to the audience what his crew of volunteers was doing in the demonstration area in front of him.

How do you explain a threshing ring to people who might not even know the bread they eat and cakes they bake contain flour made from wheat? Dillman gave it the “old college try.”

“People used to go together to harvest wheat when bundles had to be run through a stationary thresher because it was more economical that way,” he explained. “Not everyone had to own the thresher, or steam engine or tractor to run it. Those were often the expensive items back then.

“It also took lots of labor to thresh wheat. Someone stood on a wagon full of bundles and threw a bundle at a time into the thresher. Often there were at least two people on a wagon. Someone else needed to be watching if the wheat was being threshed properly, and taking care of it. There were usually also guys going to and from the field at the same time, pulling in wagons full of bundles of wheat, and doing it with horses,” Dillman said.

Check out the slideshow below, and enjoy a trip back through time as volunteers worked to make Indiana agriculture of a century ago come alive. And the next time someone says, “I wish I was farming back in the good ol’ days,” you might want to direct him or her to this set of pictures so they know for sure what they are wishing for!

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