The Badger Steam & Gas Engine Show will include a new building to showcase tractors from Brew Farm Company, in memory of William Brew and Pate Tractor and Equipment Inc., which once operated in Baraboo.
The building was designed by Brew’s wife, Jean Brew, who plans to display some of her late husband’s Minneapolis Moline tractors, which were used on his family’s farm in Wisconsin Dells. She also will display tractor-themed quilts she has made and a few model tractors the couple collected.
After her husband’s death two years ago, Brew worked to find a function for the tractors her husband used for nearly five decades on their Wisconsin Dells farm, Brew Century Farms. The Brew family has farmed hay and oats, raised dairy cows and about 200 sheep for four generations.
“I guess it was really just I wasn’t sure what to do with them,” Brew said. “He had a lot of pride in having tractors that he used on the farm for more than 50 years, and I wanted a special place for them.”
The structure is designed to look like a Pate Tractors building, which was a tractor dealership that once stood in Baraboo where a Kwik Trip and Ford dealership on South Boulevard now stand. The Brew family purchased their tractors from Pates Tractors, so Brew also wanted to honor their business.
“My husband bought all of his tractors there, and they were really good friends,” Brew said. “We’re celebrating that, as well as my husband.”
In addition to the Brew family’s Minneapolis Moline tractors, the featured display at this year’s Badger Steam & Gas Engine Show will showcase Minneapolis Moline tractors from all over the Midwest.
The company started at the turn of the 20th century, building steam engines for farming equipment, according to Joe Prindle, director and treasurer from Badger Steam & Gas Engine Club. Pate Tractor and Equipment Inc. was a dealership for Minneapolis Moline in Baraboo.
“There’s a lot of brand loyalty in the area,” Prindle said. “People were pretty happy to find out that we were going to feature Minneapolis Moline. We expect a real strong participation by local collectors.”
According to Prindle, Minneapolis Moline tractors have a large following because they were predominately used to break sod throughout the Midwest and western United States.
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Many of them were used for threshing, a practice that has now been replaced by combines that separate grain from straw. The show will feature threshing demonstrations with the equipment.
“That’s kind of what got this show started. The old-timers missed the camaraderie and fellowship that came with doing this very labor-intensive process,” Prindle said. “In the ’50s and ’60s, there was a revival of this practice, to relive the good old days, and we’re carrying that on.”
Brew hopes the display can help people understand farmers and their relationship with their work and land much like her husband’s, as well as the importance of farming and farming technology.
“The pride that farmers have, and sharing what they do have with other people,” Brew said. “And accepting new methods. We grew up in an environment that’s changing, as we start to worry about farmers not making enough money to keep going, or health concerns like depression.”
Brew also worked with the Badger Steam & Gas Engine Club to provide activities for women during the show. The activities include demonstrators who share crafts like spinning thread, sewing, broom making and quilting.
“We found out that wives wouldn’t let their husbands go to the show if there wasn’t anything for them to look at,” Brew said. “Women don’t like to look at rusty iron all day.”
The show also will include a large flea market, an active sawmill powered by steam engines and there will also be demonstrations of craftsman jobs such as blacksmithing and woodworking. In addition, collectors of different kinds of equipment will showcase their collections.
“There’s stuff you didn’t even know existed,” Prindle said. “If you can imagine it, somebody built it.”