Vintage tractors

Steam and gas engines of all sizes and shapes will be on display at the TASGA threshing bee and bazaar Sept. 21-22 in Choteau.

The Teton Antique Steam and Gas Threshing Association’s 36th annual Threshing Bee and Bazaar will be held Sept. 21 and 22 on the TASGA grounds in Choteau.

Members of the Association have been working hard to prepare the grounds for their largest fundraiser of the year. “Mother nature has also helped with plenty of moisture making everything green,” Dave Klette of Dutton, president of the organization, said. “It really looks nice this year. We are hoping there will be lots of visits to the park over the two-day event.”

The gates open both days at 7 a.m. with activities running until 5 p.m.

Daily activities include a threshing demonstration at 1 p.m. and parade of tractors at 3 p.m. There will also be tractor-drawn train rides for children who are seated in converted storage drums.

There will be a blacksmith giving demonstrations on Saturday. Sunday will include a church service at 9 a.m. in the TASGA Country Church led by the Accordion Gospel Players from Great Falls.

To be featured on the grounds are the Old Time Print Shop, TASGA Country Church, a homestead house, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, the Collins Post Office and the Choteau Train Depot. There will be several tractors to see on the grounds and several vendors who will be setting up tables and peddling a variety of items. Organizers said vendors are still welcome to sign up to participate. Those wishing to participate can simply show up for either or both days.

There will be food and refreshments served on the grounds throughout the event.

Jesse and Rose Crawford will be serving a cowboy Dutch oven meal starting at 4 p.m. and served for a price until they run out of food.

Admission is $8 for the two days for an individual or $25 for the two days for a family.

The group will also be selling raffle tickets for a number of items.

This year’s Threshing Bee is dedicated to Willis Heron of Choteau, a longtime member of the association and active volunteer. Klette said Heron is a little older than some of the volunteers, but that doesn’t slow him down. “In fact, we have trouble keeping up with him,” Klette laughed.

The TASGA association was formed in 1983. Klette estimates there are about 25 to 30 members with an average of 20 attending the meetings. “The group originally formed to actively keep the history of the agriculture of the area alive,” Rick Corey, a charter member of the group said. “Today with more and more residents of the county not involved in agriculture, it is even more important to preserve this history.”

Klette said the first few bees were held at Ove Larson’s property north of Choteau. The group elected to find a central location for the group. Choteau was selected and land leased from both the town and county beside the Choteau Weatherbeater Arena.

“When the group acquired the old train depot, things really began to take off,” Klette said. “There has been a lot more added and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor to bring the grounds up to where they are today.”

Klette, who has been a member for about 10 years, said most of the members are retirees, but they are all energetic about the changes made on the TASGA grounds over the last few years. Dues are $15 a year. They meet at 2 p.m. the last Sunday of each month and are always looking for new members.

The group volunteers time at the grounds. Klette said throughout the year they do general maintenance and schedule painting projects. This year, they added some more equipment to the print shop and hope to have some of it operating during the bee.

This year they also they cleaned up trees that blew down and had many more trimmed hoping to eliminate some from blowing over in the future.

Klette welcomes everyone to attend the two-day event and enjoy looking around the grounds and taking part in all of the activities that are planned. The weekend is always filled with fun for all ages, he said.