There are very few annual events that have had the staying power of the Mark Twain Old Threshers Reunion. This year's event will mark the 46th time the reunion has been held! The Mark Twain Old Threshers Reunion will be July 9-12 at the Paris, Missouri fairgrounds. Angela Fields, president of the Mark Twain Old Threshers Association, took a few minutes to give us details on the upcoming weekend. 

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For those that aren't familiar with the event, what is the Mark Twain Old Threshers Reunion?

It is an old steam show that started in 1970. It was a bunch of older gentlemen who were still wanting to relive the time of the old steam engines, and the old steel wheel tractors, and the old time gas engines, and some of the horse-drawn things used for farming. We try to keep that alive with our association. We ask people to come out and join us and take a look at the old time steam engines, and the old gas engines, and watch the threshing with the tractors and watch some of the steam engines. We're supposed to have a couple of smaller steam engines, I do believe, on hand. It costs so much nowadays to haul these big old steam engines around. The big steam engines is what they used to use for tractors in the fields. That's what they had and that's how they farmed. It's a lot of fun. There's a lot of education for a lot of people that have never really been around the farming.

Is it getting harder to find equipment for your show?

It is. It's very hard to find it. We're very fortunate. We have a sister organization at Shelbina, and they are fortunate enough that they do have an engine of their own, and they have several people that have engines that leave them on the grounds up there. Then of course, in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, they have the Old Threshers Labor Day Weekend, and of course they have a lot of them that come in up there ... We are very cooperative. We work with each other and we help each other out. We have the same thing in the mind, and the same thing in common, and we want to see it continue, we don't want to let it die out, so we work together to try and keep it going.

This got started in 1970. Are there any members of the original Mark Twain Old Threshers Association that are still active with the organization?

Yes, sir. I have one gentleman that is still living, and he is still active. He's not quite as active as he used to be. He is 86 years young, I do believe, and he does reside at Mexico, Missouri at the Veterans Home. He has a lot of old cars and old trucks and he brings those and puts those in the antique car and truck show. We always love to have Jack Beamer come. He does attend the meetings, almost every month, and he still can tell you stories from day one. We're very, very fortunate to still have an original member.

What will be a few highlights for this year's event?

One of the big things that everybody always asks is, "what is the featured tractor?" Each year we try to feature a different brand of a tractor, and this year we're featuring the Ford, the Fordson, and the Ford Ferguson, and any of that equipment that is related to the Ford. We do welcome any and all makes and models of tractors for display. We love to have them. The more the merrier.

We have decided this year we would like to have the Miss Old Thresher's contest again. We have not had it for several years. Along with that we're going to have the Jr. Miss and the Miss, then we're going to have a Prince and Princess.

We have some vendors coming in. We've got a conservation exhibit and they bring in things and they work with the kids and show them different things. We have threshing demonstrations going on with the early day equipment.

It's a lot of fun. We've got a lot of things going on. We have a wonderful band. We're always thrilled to death to have Ben VanDyke & The Rumble Strip Band coming back. They've been here the last two years. If you like the older country music, and some of the newer, they play mostly the older, but they do slip in a new song here and there. They will be here playing at 8 p.m. Friday night and Saturday night.

How much does it cost to get in to the Mark Twain Old Thresher's Reunion?

It's a $5 admission per person, and 12 years and younger are free with an adult. $5 will get you in Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. As long as have that button you are paid in for the whole weekend. It's pretty hard to go someplace and not spend a fortune. We try to do everything we can to keep the costs down so people can come and enjoy it.

Also, if there's somebody that would like to bring a camper, they need to call me at 573-721-5705, because you can bring your camper and hook up. We do have electric. It will cost you $20 to park your camper for the whole weekend.

Additional events and activities taking place during the 46th annual Mark Twain Old Thresher's Reunion include a tractor cruise, flea market, antique car and truck show, auction, fish fry and games for kids. For a complete schedule of events, visit the Mark Twain Old Threshers online.