Group hopes to find more volunteers

Angie Fields says the 2017 edition of the Old Mark Twain Threshers Association, scheduled for July 6-9 at the Paris Fairgrounds, is set to be one of the best yet.

“We have a lot of work to do but it is coming together well,” she said.

As the 48th edition of the show is in the final stages of preparation, Fields recalls that only a year ago, she and show organizers were worried that the show faced a bleak future. A strong summer storm, packing winds of 70 mph, ripped through Paris, taking down tents, the food pavilion and buildings at the Paris Fairgrounds. Day One of the 47th annual edition of the reunion to be cancelled, wiping out the popular annual fish fry that celebrates the first night of the event, and leaving a big financial challenge for organizers.

“I just knew that we were out of business. It was so devastating,” said Fields, president of Old Mark Twain Threshers.

But the community responded. Nearly 30 volunteers stepped in and worked furiously to repair damage from the storm. They replaced tents, repaired vendor booths and by 5 p.m. that evening of the storm, they had even re-erected the food pavilion tent. Attendance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday was strong, with more than 1,200 Old Mark Twain Thresher Reunion buttons sold the entry gates, and more than 200 volunteers, dozens of competitors and more than 30 vendors took part in the reunion.

Fields says that she hopeful for good weather this year, but the association again needs some help from the community as there is a shortage of volunteers to staff entry gates and the food booth.

“Sometimes, you have those down years for volunteers, but we still have time,” she said.

Last year, after the weather-delay, the fairground was often packed. And they ate lot of food Fields estimated that more than 2,000 meals were served – nearly 300 pounds of pork steak, 400 hot dogs, 300 brats, 325 pounds of hamburger and countless mini-tacos. During breakfast, show-goers consumed 18 dozen eggs, 40 pounds of sausage and countless biscuits. The food lines were long each day.

Here are some highlights planned this year’s edition of the Mark Twain Old Threshers:

Thursday: Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (biscuit and sausage gravy only). The tractor cruise starts at 9 a.m., with line-up at the south end of the Fairgrounds at 8:45 a.m. Registration begins at 8 a.m. The fish fry will start at 5:30 p.m. at the food shack. Cost is $9 per plate and $4 for children six and under. We encourage everyone to come out and eat with us.

Friday: Breakfast of biscuits and gravy, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Friday, there will be a baby show starting at 6 p.m., with registration at 5 p.m. Contestants do not have to be Monroe County residents. Boys and Girls Divisions are 0-6 months, 7-12 months, 13-18 months, 19-24 months and 25-35 months. An overall grand champion will be chosen. Lil’ Mr. and Miss Contest is open to 3- to 5-year-olds. Following the Baby Show with registration, there will be a competition for Mr. and Mrs. Old Threshers 19 and up, Miss Old Threshers, 15-18, Junior Miss Old Threshers, 12-14 and Prince and Princess, 6-11. The Miniature Draft/Pony Pull will start at 6:30 p.m. in the south end of the arena. Weigh-In will be at 3:30 p.m. Friday evening ends with A Side of Country Band performing at 8 p.m.

A full breakfast will be offered on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The day will be highlighted by the annual parade through Paris, with line-up at 9 a.m. the grandstand. The parade starts at 10 a.m., heading for downtown Paris. There will be an Antique Car and Truck Show after the parade on the west side of the Fairgrounds. Cars and trucks must be 25 years old or older. Tractor games will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a Missouri State Saddle Club Association and Central Missouri Saddle Club Circuit Horse Show in the arena from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The washers tournament starts at 2 p.m. by the big white tent. A garden tractor pull will be at 2 p.m. and an antique tractor pull will begin at 3 p.m. There will be a professional draft horse pull at 5 p.m. And A Side of Country band will again end the evening with an 8 p.m. concert. On Sunday, the Middle State Saddle Club Association will stage a show, beginning at 11 a.m. in the arena.

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The cost to attend the show is $5 for all shows and events. Fields said that the Mark Twain Old Threshers, which a 501 (3) (c) nonprofit under the Internal Revenue Code, uses money from the reunion to help fund charities in Monroe County, including Monroe County Cancer Supporters and the Madison FFA. Once expenses are paid, the organization will decide which charities to support this year. The Old Mark Twain Threshers is seeking more members. The fee to join is $10 per year and Fields says that people who want to volunteer can call her at (573) 721-5705.