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What is this Rollag thing

WMSTR Horsepower area

Photo by Tim Dachtera

If anyone has followed me on Facebook, Twitter, read the most boring crap in the Internet, (otherwise known as this blog) or talked to me in person, you would have picked up some mention of the Rollag thing I attend every year and am overly obsessed with.

What Is It?
Rollag is the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion. It was started back in 1954 and has been going on every Labor Day weekend since then. It is one of the largest, if not the largest show in the region sitting on over 230 acres of land. We have a wide array of displays and exhibits to see. We have a complete horsepower and pioneer farmstead area, two steam locomotives that pull visitors around the showgrounds. We also feature daily parades, food, construction area, music, sawmills, foundry, ladies activities, miniature steam engines to see. There are so many things to mention I could go on for hours or days. One of the big draws to the show is our large collection of steam engines. Rollag owns a number of steamers, and many of our members store, or haul in steamers to Rollag for the show.

We operate the massive steamers for threshing displays, plowing and nightly spark shows which is a real treat to see. Most of the engines are 80+ years old, and are an impressive sight to see working. In addition to the engines, we have a great array of tasty food to enjoy. Local churches serve meals all day long, and are some good down home cooking. Full breakfasts with eggs, pancakes, sausage and coffee, to lunches and roast for supper, rommegrot, fry bread and steamer cooked corn are just a few of the great things you can eat while on the hill. We also have ice cream stands, hamburgers and other meals such as the Thresherman Special (Taco In A Bag to the commonfolk)

Why do I go there?
I was hooked by Rollag by my late grandfather many years ago, back in 1995. I started, along with my buddy Mike running the sound board for one of the music buildings at night. Since then, I’ve become involved in other areas of the showgrounds, such as the showbook photography, filming, editing and production of the annual Memories On The Hill DVD, as well as maintaining the Rollag website and e-commerce site. I do many other things around the grounds too, help with this that or the other thing, but my main contribution has been technology since I didn’t grow up around, or have much exposure to tractors etc.

I still go there as a homage to Grandpa, and will continue to attend until my name is carved into the memorial wall many years down the road. I feel it’s important to demonstrate how life used to be before cell phones, cars, automation and the other modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to in our daily life. We would not be where we are today, without the progress from yesterday.

In addition to helping keep the show going, we’ve met a number of really great people at the show. Almost being like a second family, I really enjoy seeing these people as you don’t get to see them every day. As a whole, once you are inside the showgrounds gate, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you do, or how deep your pockets are. We are all there for a common goal. We have tradesman, lawyers, IT people, truckers, farmers, doctors, military. You name it, they’re here helping!

Why should you go?
I think everyone should attend at least once, just to see the grounds, and all of the working history. Sure, you can go to the state fair and see a bunch of tractors, but they don’t run. They sit. Our displays are working, active, you can talk to the operators and get history on what the equipment was used for. Kids love tractors, plain and simple. We have LOTS of tractors for kids to look at, and even drive! All in all, it’s a great experience to come and visit, and you really need to plan on spending two days to see all of the show.

Rollag is near and dear to my heart, and comes first in pretty much all aspects of my life. I have missed birthdays, parties, weddings and other events because my role is very critical to this show, and many aspects would be significantly hindered if I wasn’t there. It’s also the only time I take a block of PTO of more than 1 day for an event. I take time off, to volunteer and work 10-12 hour days in the dirt and dust, for vacation.

If you are interested in coming to the show, check out Rollag.com, or drop me a line and I’ll feed you more information than you can digest.