Manitoba becomes new threshing world record holder

Manitoba is the proud new holder for number of antique threshing machines operating simultaneously in one field.

More than 150 antique threshing machines descended on a field near Austin, Man., Sunday

The view from above as antique threshing machines attempt to break a world record Sunday near Austin, Man. (Harvesting Hope/Twitter)

Manitoba is now the proud owner of a new world record.

More than 150 antique threshing machines descended on a field near Austin, Man. Sunday afternoon in an attempt to break the world record for the most pioneer threshing machines operating at once. 

One-hundred-and-thirty-nine machines finished the required 15 minutes of threshing to beat out the current record of 111, held by St. Albert, Ontario after an event last year.

"This wasn't just a modern day record, this is a new feat that's never been seen before," said Elliot Sims, vice-chair of the Threshermen's Reunion and Stampede

"We were quite happy that we were able to make it work, and from what I hear from everyone in the crowd, they just couldn't believe the amount of machines and the amount of passion from all the volunteers to make sure they were operating," he added.

Volunteers manually shovelled wheat into the machines with pitchforks, and each machine was given 200 sheaves per machine to thresh. 

"Most of the machines went well beyond the 15 minutes that we were planning on to make sure that they had all their sheaves gone through," said Sims.

He says 1400 volunteers worked yesterday to make the event a success.

"Some of these machines are in a little more original condition than others. So it really comes down to is the man-power. It was over 30 degrees with the humidity yesterday and that's hot, heavy work when you're pitch forking all of those sheaves in by hand," said Sims.

The event, titled Harvesting Hope: a World Record to Help the Hungry, took place at the annual Thesherman's Reunion and Stampede.

Austin, Man., is about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg near Portage la Prairie. 

"They [volunteers] are coming from as far as Newfoundland, British Columbia, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, New York," Sims said. "It's simply astounding to us of where all of these people are coming from."

Sims said some of the threshing machines themselves were coming from as far away as Iowa, Minneapolis and northern Alberta. He said organizers were hoping to have each machine operating at the same time for 15 minutes. More than 45,000 sheaves of wheat were cut for the event. 

The threshing machines were driven by a steam engine, tractor or stationary engine built between 1890 and 1950.
"We've got a number of our volunteers even just saying it's giving them goosebumps seeing how this thing is shaping up to happen," Sims said.

He said the machines were lined up in a W-shaped figure in an area about 5.5 hectares large. Stretched out, he said the line of machines would stretch for more than two kilometres.

Prior to St. Albert taking the record in 2015, the Old Tyme Harvest in Langenburg, Sask., held the record with 41 machines operating at once in 2013. 

Funds raised from Harvesting Hope will be spilt between the Manitoba Agricultural Museum and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The organizers are waiting on official approval from the Guinness Book of World Records on their feat.