The Teton Antique Steam and Gas Association’s 38th annual Threshing Bee and Bazaar will be held Sept. 17-19 on the TASGA grounds in Choteau.
“We are all excited to be hosting the annual event and welcome everyone to come and join the fun one day or all three,” said TASGA member Sandy Corey.
The grounds will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 a person or $25 a family and is good for all three days. Children 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. Dogs are welcome to attend with their owners but must be on a leash.
Corey said the group felt fortunate they were able to hold the event in 2020 when many were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Given it is primarily an outdoor event, it was easier for those attending to be socially distanced from each other. That still holds true this year, Corey said. “We are making sure the areas that need cleaning are done so as often as possible and encourage anyone who wishes to wear a mask while attending to do so,” she added.
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 from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be face painting for the youngsters.
There will be food and concessions on the grounds catered by Patti Toren, including breakfast served both Saturday and Sunday. A pulled pork dinner will be served on Saturday starting at 4 p.m.
Jerry Coburn will oversee the blacksmith shop and give a demonstration each day. Andy Watson, owner of Big Sky Pottery in Fairfield, will give pottery demonstrations on Saturday. New this year will be a display of old sewing machines and a few quilts. Janice Greyn is in charge of this display, which will be at the depot.
Sunday will include a church service at 9 a.m. in the TASGA Country Church led by the Accordion Gospel Players from Great Falls. Gloria Lannen is helping with the church service. Members of the Choteau Community Band are tentatively scheduled to provide music from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday near the depot.
Buildings on the grounds include 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 demonstrations at some of the shops throughout the event. Corey said club members cut and bind the grain and haul the grain to be used in the threshing demonstrations. The group also made a trip to the mountains to gather logs to be cut in the sawmill.
There will also be stationary engines and vintage tractors to see on the grounds. There are displays of tools and other treasurers throughout the buildings for those attending to find.
“Exhibitors, crafters and vendors are welcome to come and participate for one day or all three,” Corey said. Those interested do not have to pre-register but can contact Corey at 406-466-5409 for additional information.
Barbara Larsen is organizing local musicians to provide music at the grounds.
The group will also be selling raffle tickets for a variety of prizes. The raffle will feature a variety of handmade items including a rocking chair, wooden toy and bench to a painted saw blade, a framed picture of an old truck when gathering hay and a horseshoe tree. The drawing will be held Sunday afternoon. Ticket holders do not need to be present to win.
Dan Lannen, who has been a member of TASGA since 1988, is the 2021 Threshing Bee honoree. At noon on Saturday, Lannen will be recognized, and cupcakes served to honor his dedication to the group and the yearly Threshing Bee event.
The TASGA association was formed in 1983. Corey estimates there are about 30 members with an average of 20 attending the meetings. “We welcomed a few new members this year and would love to have others join us as well,” Corey 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 was leased from both the town and county beside the Choteau Weatherbeater Arena.
According to charter member Rick Corey, when the group acquired the old train depot, things really began to take off. There has been a lot more added and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor to bring the grounds up to where they are today.
Corey said most members are retired, but that certainly isn’t a requirement. They welcome men and women of all ages. The association meets at 2 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month and is always looking for new members. Dues are $15 a year.
TASGA members volunteer their time at the grounds, as well. Throughout the year, they do general maintenance and scheduled painting projects.
Corey said there weren’t any major changes made to the grounds this year. They did replace several boards on the dock of the depot and hope to add new paint to the announcers’ stand before Friday.
The Threshing Bee event is the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year. They will have T-shirts and hats for sale in the depot to add to the profit. The funds raised are used for upkeep of the grounds.
This year, the club had floats in the Choteau Fourth of July parade, the Dutton Fun Day parade and the Fairfield Swim Day parade. The members were excited to take first in each of the parades. “It was fun to participate in the area celebrations and hopefully get our name and the dates for the Threshing Bee out there so people could put it on their calendars and attend,” Corey said.
The club members welcome everyone to attend the three-day event and enjoy looking around the grounds and taking part in the activities that are planned. “The weekend is always filled with fun for all ages,” Corey said.