WAWOTA - The 6th annual Old Time Harvest event was held this past Saturday, Sept. 4 at the Ken and Kevin Wilson farm 14 kms south of Wawota.
“It was a smashing success!” says Kevin.
Although the weather 10 days prior was looking a bit sketchy, the weather on the actual day was awesome bringing out a whole lot of spectators.
“Everything went on without a hitch,” says Kevin. “It was really good.”
It takes many helping hands to pull this event off without a hitch. Other than Kevin and his dad Ken…his significant other, his son and his mother are also very involved and pitch in any way they can. Although his mother may not be as involved as she once was, Kevin states that she makes sure everyone is fed and watered!
As well a small crew of friends camp out at the farm to help out with the preparation three days in advance spending four or five days with the Wilson family.
“I guess you could call it a working holiday!” says Kevin.
During the event on Saturday approximately 8 acres of a wheat crop was harvested using antique farm equipment.
“We cut sheaves and we pitch the sheaves on the wagon and haul them to the two thrashing machines,” explains Kevin.
“We have various people in the crowd who volunteer. They take part in the event which is a unique thing about what we do here. The crowd is very involved in what we do,” explains Kevin.
During this event the Wilsons harvest with various pieces of antique equipment. The newest piece of machinery that they have on display would be over 50 years old and the oldest piece would be 115 years old.
“We do have several other enthusiasts who bring machinery as well,” says Kevin.
Kevin goes on to explain:
“We’re driving tractors that are in that 1930’s to 1950’s range. One of the thrashing machines is from 1919 and the other is 1926. We also combine with antique combines ranging in years from the mid-40’s to the mid-60’s.”
“Our event is a hands-on visual show of harvesting in its infancy with machinery such as thrashing machines and binders to the early combines that we’re using.”
The Wilsons had the inspiration to start this type of event after attending a few other similar events and kind of caught the bug that way.
“We decided we needed to have one of these event in the area because they’re few and far between,” says Kevin.
This type of farming equipment is almost obsolete and not likely to see it actually running any longer.
“It’s past the point of usefulness,” says Kevin. “We’re kind of holding onto the past. None of the machinery really has a purpose anymore.”
This allows other people to have an opportunity to come and have a bit of a taste of what they may have experienced when they farmed 60 and 70 years ago.
The Wilsons have acquired antique harvesting equipment over the years.
“We’ve travelled the country and picked up bits and pieces along the way,” explains Kevin. “We’ve been collecting pieces for a while…we bought our first antique tractor back in 1990.”
Seeing that the Wilson family had acquired all this antique equipment that’s when they decided to start up the annual harvest event.
“What really started this taste for the antique machinery was when I was 10 years old I ran a combine that was a Super 92 Massey combine and I’ve always kind of thought it would be neat to have one of these again so that’s what started it. We picked one up about 12 years ago and then it’s just kind of ballooned into more machinery and then Dad figured we needed a Harvest Brigade combine and that’s another story! That’s the 1945 combine that we ran on Sunday.”
“It’s an obsession now,” says Kevin about buying these antique pieces. “It’s pretty addicting!”
“It’s a lot of tinkering with these old machines to keep them running,” explains Kevin. “We tinker 12 months a year!”
This year’s event had some mid-90-year-old spectators who came out to reminisce.
They probably wouldn’t want to ever go back to farming that way but when they come to watch how farming was done in their day, they see the activity and at 85 years of age or more it brings back many memories.
“One fellow was 94 years old here on Saturday and he grabbed a fork and he pitched a few sheaves!” says Kevin.
Even the young kids attending heard their grandfathers talk about how they used to farm but you can actually see in person how farming was done at the Wilson’s Old Time Harvest event.
Although the big event was held Saturday they also carried into Sunday as well.
“We took to the field with six antique combines and we never had a breakdown. We combined a 15 acre patch in about 3½ hours. It went without a hitch!”
“We have spectators come from far and wide including one from Honolulu who comes every year to visit relatives in Wawota,” says Ken. “She’ll also come and help the ladies serve lunch.”
“There’s quite a few who come from Melita, Manitoba every year,” adds Ken.
The Wilsons are mainly livestock farmers so that’s why they say they have time to hold this old time farming event.
“This is kind of our little hobby I guess,” says Kevin.
The Wilsons say they plan to continue putting on this annual Old Time Harvest event while it’s still fun! Plan to put it on your bucket list!