The 43rd annual Old Timer’s Days, held at the Seminary Picnic Grounds May 29 and 30 offered a chance to step back to a more simpler time. There were various demonstrations and activities, plus entertaining tractor games
Jerry and Yolanda Stroup of Lowndes provided covered wagon rides Saturday.
“Free wagon rides,” Jerry Stroup called out to no one in particular.
Jerry sat in front, holding the reigns while Yolanda encouraged those in attendance to carefully climb the back steps into the wagon.
The couple recently returned from doing wagon rides in Alabama.
“We grew up doing it,” said Yolanda Stroup.
The wagon used Saturday was modeled after once from about the 1850s and being pulled by two mules. In the past, they have often used more than two mules.
Pulling the wagon Saturday were mules Janet, 4, and Jake, 8, raised by the Stroups.
Jerry Stroup spoke of why mules were preferred to horses for the wagon treks out West.
“A mule is tougher than a horse,” he said. “They can take more heat. When they settled this country, a lot of people would sell their horses when they hit St. Louis or St. Joe and they’d buy mules or oxen for when they hit the Missouri Ozarks or the drylands or whatever, they could go without water or feeding a lot longer than the horses could.”
The old covered wagon is not an exact replica, as the one used at Old Timer’s Day and other outings comes with padded seats and mats on the floor.
Yolanda Stroup hopes those who took a wagon ride learned something from the short venture.
“A sense of their heritage, something they moved up from,” she said. “It kind of gives them experience back in time, to ride and see what a wagon is the like. A lot of people want to pet the mules after the ride and know their names. A lot of people call them horses. Kids today don’t know the difference between mules and horses.”
She spoke of settlers that took the 2,000 mile trip from Kansas City to California.
“A lot the families went as far as they could go financially, physically,” said Yolanda Stroup. “If they had a breakdown, that’s where they were at. If they could make the whole trip, they planned on it and everything worked, they might end up in California, Wyoming or off to Montana and Oregon.”
She mentions that wagon trains could be up to 90 miles long with too many wagons to count. They traveled during the day, then at night, they rested and the teams of animals, and cooked for the families.
“Nobody rode (the wagon) except the driver and little bitty kids, everybody else had to walk,” she said. “They had their feed and belongings and stuff in the wagon.”
The travelers slept in wagon at night, then embarked on the next day’s journey when the sun came up,” Yolanda Stroup said.
Albert Mateka of Biehle and Allen Lukefahr of Daisy showed attendees the proper way to operate a saw, hooked up to a tractor. They used a 20-inch blade to provide cuttings of sassafras, permission and walnut trees.
One of the demonstrations was a gas-powered wood splitter. Logs were lifted into place, split and then loaded on an elevator where they wound up in the back of a truck.
Norman Smith of Walsh, Ill. has been a regular presenter at the Old Timer’s Day event. The engine used for his wood splitter was taken from an old John Deere combine.
Mark Petzoldt of Altenburg was manning the blacksmith area, heating coal and then heating and re-heating the piece of steel he was working on. The weekend event also included a kids pedal tractor pull .