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Full Steam Ahead

Thousands attend 63rd annual Sycamore Steam Show & Threshing Bee

SYCAMORE – The 63rd annual Sycamore Steam Show & Threshing Bee, sponsored by the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club, ran last week at the Taylor Marshall Farm, 27707 Lukens Road, outside Sycamore.

In addition to about 25 steam traction engines, the event featured gas engines, a steam shovel, antique cars and more than 200 gas tractors. Other attractions included a 1920 Vilter Tandem-Compound Corliss stationary steam engine in operation, a 1918 Joe Dain tractor, an early experimental tractor built by John Deere, a bake sale, flea market, a World War II display, a petting zoo hosted by the Sycamore FFA and live music.

Les Petersen of Hampshire was at the first-ever steam show in 1957. Three generations of the Petersen family attended this year’s event, bringing along their 1917 Minneapolis, 1925 Baker and 1916 Frick steam traction engines.

“You don’t even have to be interested in steam power; you just have to be curious,” Petersen said. “There is a lot to see and do that interests a lot of people.”

Milan Duchaj, president of the NISPC, also attended the first steam show.

“I remember the first day of the show, it was rained out,” Duchaj said. “But I think everyone was surprised at how many people came out.”

For 10 years, the show was held in different locations, including Rockford and Davis Junction. In 1967, it moved to the Taylor Marshall Farm, where it has been held since. The event has grown to draw about 10,000 people over four days, Duchaj said.

“It’s really unlike any other event; there’s history and family, and people talk to you and are sociable,” Duchaj said. “Everyone is happy to answer questions and talk about steam power. They’re here because this is what they love. For many, it’s more than a hobby.”

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