Annual Threshing Days show off Goessel's roots
Goessel will celebrate its Russian-German Mennonite roots this weekend during Threshing Days.
Susan Nafzinger will be running “Uncle Milt’s shed”, a collection of children’s activities Friday afternoon.
“I’ll have different projects, everything prepped and ready to go for them to make,” she said. “They all have to do with Mennonite, farming, and agricultural history.”
Her projects this year allow children to make their own corn cob dolls, alphabet blocks, miniature windmills, and chalkboard slates. She will also have a scavenger hunt around the Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum, a story walk reading the Little Red Hen, and her grain sensory tables.
Nafzinger receives from area farmers different types of grain, including unthreshed wheat saved for Threshing Days, from the Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing (or W.H.E.A.T.) Company which funds the event.
“Especially with the little ones, they love to play in the grains and let the wheat run through their fingers,” she said. “A lot of them don’t get to do things like that anymore, so they’ll stay there for hours. It’s great to see how happy they are playing with something so simple.”
Tractors and other equipment will be displayed Friday. The parade is Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Parade organizer Bruce Funk said that there is no pre-registration for the parade, making it difficult to know who will participate. But he confirmed more than 100 exhibitors from seven states including Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska will show.
“We’ll have some floats, a bunch of classic and antique cars, and then of course the tractors,” Funk said.
Funk will contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to help with the parade. The Newton Saddle Club will ride first.
“Then I just try and have a mixture,” he said. “I don’t load up all the tractors at one point in the parade, or all the cars, or that kind of thing. I like to mix things up a little bit.”
Funk was born and raised in Goessel, moved to Newton in 1982, then reconnected with his Mennonite roots in his hometown.
“I joined the engine club, and before I knew it, I was the publication chairman, directed the parade, and was the announcer,” he said.
Many Goessel residents including Funk take great pride in the parade.
“We’ve got everything. I think it’s one of the better parades in Kansas, if not the best, because ours lasts for nearly an hour,” he said. “We don’t have any restrictions on throwing candy or anything like that. Pretty much everyone who goes through throws candy. Don’t bring your kids along to watch the parade without bringing a plastic bag.”
After the parade, a meal will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mennonite Heritage Museum director Fern Bartel helps to organize the meal. Low German foods such as verenika with ham gravy, bierocks, country sausage, coleslaw, zwieback rolls, moos, and New Year’s cookies will be served.
Volunteers cook the meal, which is held in the elementary school
“The high school cooks do the sausage in their ovens there, and then they bring them over to the grade school,” Bartel said. “We have a group that’s making the cherry moos on Friday morning. The verenika comes from the MCC sale, so they’ve been frozen, and we cook them here.”
Other activities include a petting zoo hosted by the Future Farmers of America; a pedal tractor pull that will allow two kids of each age group 3 to 12 to participate in a pedal tractor pull at the state fair; and demonstrations of sawmills, draft horses, and threshing.
“We usually do have quite a crowd,” Bartel said.
RV parking will be available at the city park as well as at the RV parks in Hesston and Newton. Admission paid is good for all three days.
More information is available at the W.H.E.A.T. and Mennonite Heritage Museums’ websites as well as the Goessel City Office at 620-367-8111. Gates will open at noon Friday.
Last modified Aug. 5, 2021