Union Thresheree in Symco
Volunteers construct old-style barn
By Jane Myhra
Antique steam engines, tractor pulls, music and a swap meet are featured at the 48th annual Union Thresheree and National Antique Tractor Pull Friday through Sunday, July 24-26, in Symco.
The event features Rumely tractors and products, with Root and Vandervoort gas engines.
Demonstrations include thrashing grain, baling, silo filling and sawing logs. New displays for the 2015 show are Wisconsin made garden tractors and vintage garden tractor plowing.
The annual thresheree is sponsored by the Union Thresherman’s, Club, in cooperation with the Werth Family.
The event is held on a 33-acre property that has been in the Larry Werth family for more than 70 years.
The thresheree grounds includes Unionville, a turn-of-the-century village complete with a water-powered feed mill, general store, blacksmith shop, barbershop, church and saloon.
All of the Unionville buildings are constructed and maintained by volunteers, ranging in age from 3 to 93.
“The thresheree club appreciates all of the volunteers for helping to prepare the grounds,” said Paul Timm, son-in-law of the late Larry Werth.
Each year, the volunteers add at least one new building. By next year, they plan to construct an old-fashioned candy store.
The newest addition to Unionville is a barn, which will serve as the registration station during the thresheree.
According to Brian Zabel, overseer of the project, the 38-by-42-foot monitor-style barn was built using an age-old post and beam construction.
Zabel chose the monitor-style with a high center section, even though it is not the type of barn usually found in this area of Wisconsin.
“It’s kind of the way old tobacco barns were built,” he said.
For the framing, he chose mortise and tenon jointing to provide a stronger structure.
“It opened us up to the possibility of more complex jointery,” he said. “The barn looks like our feed mill, but this is the next level of timber framing. It’s a lost art – nobody is doing it anymore.”
A designer’s blueprints for the barn also included wedged and pegged scarf joints. This called for exact measurements for each beam.
“It’s pretty rewarding to do a building this big and have the joints fit as well as they do,” Zabel said. “It will be more structurally sound than a stud frame.”
Zabel’s volunteer crew used green wood, large dimension timbers, dry pegs and recessed joints for the beaming.
“When everything dries, the building becomes structurally stronger,” he said.
The Union Thresherman’s Club started the jointery indoors in April and erected the frame in early July. It was a few weeks before they were ready to place the walls.
Even with lots of help, a building does not go up in a day, according to Zabel. During the old-fashioned “barn raisings,” the framing and base were prepared earlier.
The grounds open at 9 a.m. Friday, July 24, with garden tractor plowing at 1 p.m. and a Country Music show featuring “Bib Back Yard” from 8 p.m. to midnight.
On Saturday, July 25, the gates open at 7 a.m. with the Kids Pedal Pull at 9:30 a.m., National Antique Tractor Pull at 11 a.m., garden tractor plowing at 1 p.m., Adult Pedal Pull at 9 p.m., and music by “Saddle Brook” from 8 p.m. to midnight.
On Sunday, July 26, the grounds open at 9 a.m. with a parade in downtown Symco at 11:30 a.m. and the Antique Power Chainsaw Contest at 3 p.m.
Children’s activities will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
In 2017, the Union Thresheree will celebrate 50 years.
In honor of this anniversary the Union Threshermen’s Club will publish a commemorative book. The club is seeking stories of past thresherees.
For more information, visit www.symcoutc.com.