Atwater Threshing Days hoping for a bumper crop of an event

Returning after a one-year, coronavirus-caused hiatus, the Atwater Threshing Days agriculture event is back with plenty of family-friendly activities. The two-day event takes place on Sept. 11 and 12.

Dean Stenberg, of Grove City, stacks bundles of oats into shocks Saturday, July 17, on the grounds of the Atwater Threshing Show, which holds its annual two-day show Sept. 11-12. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune

ATWATER — Like so many community events, the Atwater Threshing Days was forced to cancel its 2020 event. So the board of directors is rather excited for its return in 2021.

"We are back," board member Adam Bosch said. "We are hoping for a good year."

The event will take place Sept. 11-12 at the Atwater Threshing Grounds, 1100 Kandi-Meeker Road, just east of the city of Atwater. Admission is $8 per person; children under the age of 12 are admitted free.

Each day there is a long list of activities, demonstrations, music and, of course, threshing. There is also corn shelling, shingle making and a working sawmill along with other exhibitions run by volunteers.

"You just never know what to expect," Bosch said. "There is always something different to do and see."


In the Ladies Actives Building there are food demonstrations, quilting, rug making and more. There are also fun activities for the children such as rope making, a barnyard and playground to explore, a treasure hunt and a state-sanctioned kids' pedal pull at 11 a.m. Sunday.

"It is truly a family event," Bosch said. "We do a decent job of giving the whole family something to look at and enjoy."

Atwater Threshing Days is a great opportunity for people to learn about how Minnesota was made and the amount of work that went into it. As we lose members of the generations that remember threshing in the fields, events such as Threshing Days are one of the few places that history can still be experienced.

"That is why I really enjoy teaching people," Bosch said.

Every year a specific brand of tractors is showcased at Threshing Days. This year's focus is Minneapolis-Moline. Formed in 1929 and based in Hopkins, the business was a merger of three companies — Moline Plow Company Inc., Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company, and Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Company. The company was purchased in 1963 by White Motor Company. The tractors will be featured in the at 1 p.m. daily tractor parade.

Tractors are a huge piece of Atwater Threshing Days. The show is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday just off U.S. Highway 12 on the east edge of Atwater. Carolyn Lange / West Central Tribune file photo

The ladies building also features a new topic each year. This year the topic is crocks, a storage container usually made from stoneware. One famous crock maker was Red Wing Stoneware and Pottery from Red Wing, Minnesota, though there are many others.


"A crock encompasses many things," Bosch said.

There have been some challenges this year. While the board and volunteers did do some upgrades to the site, including adding a permanent structure to sell Threshing Days souvenirs, money was a concern.

"We had to watch our budget a little bit," due to missing out on the revenue from last year's event, Bosch said.

Another issue that organizers have been dealt is the drought. While there are plenty of crops, they're not in the best of condition. Corn ears are small and the oat crop has also suffered.

"It is not a bumper crop by any stretch," Bosch said. "For what we do, it's fine."

Then there is COVID-19. Bosch said the organizers have been working with Kandiyohi County Emergency Management to see how the event can be kept as safe as possible. Most of the programming is out in the open air and there is space for people to keep their distance. The board has also put out more bathrooms and handwashing stations as well as hand sanitizer.

"We're doing everything the county has been asking us to do," Bosch said.

With planning and preparations starting to wrap up, the excitement has started to rise. Bosch missed meeting up with friends from previous shows and making connections with visitors from all over the state. He hopes a good crowd comes out to enjoy the festivities and perhaps even learn something.


"This year is probably the year to check it out," Bosch said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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