Heat, humidity have major impact on OT attendanceFive-day admissions down 10 percent; one-day ticket sales increase
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
When one thinks of the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, thoughts of tractors and steam engines — implement still or formerly used in agriculture — are some of the things that come to mind.
However, the reunion is tied to farming in another way — it’s considerably weather dependent.
And this year’s heat indexes in triple digits during the first two days of the reunion had a profound impact on attendance, according to Lennis Moore, CEO of the reunion.
“I can’t remember another year with higher heat indexes that what we had this year,” Moore, who has headed the reunion for decades, said as he glanced at the attendance figures.
He said five-day admissions were down about 10.5 percent when compared to the three-year average at 11,026. However, one-day admissions were up about 5 percent, accounting for 19,412 paid guests.
“I would imagine we had about 35,000 attend,” Moore said. “It is not the year we wanted, but it is what it is. It still is a pretty good bargain for $25 (cost of the five-day pass).
“We are like farmers in that we plant the seeds of the event over a year in advance and nurture them throughout the year and then have a five-day harvest,” he said in an analogy.
Moore, however, also noted that attendance at the Iowa State Fair declined this year “and they had perfect weather. I think a lot of people are still watching their pennies.”
Although he was disappointed by the attendance, particularly on Sunday, which was the kindest day (weatherwise) of the event, he saw many silver linings.
“Everybody associated with Old Threshers shouldered a lot of responsibility and internally, it was one of the smoother events we had,” he said.
As usual, volunteers played a major role. All told, the volunteer roster approaches 1,000 when counting the number of volunteers who work with clubs, organizations and church groups with vendor stands at the event.
“There are 560 volunteers with Old Threshers,” Moore noted. “About 100 of those put in a lot of hours and we have some who put in over 1,000 hours. That is just very humbling for me.”
Iowa Wesleyan College also stepped up. The CEO said members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, baseball team, girls’ track team, football team and concert choir all worked at one time or another during the five-day event. “You saw and lot of purple and white out there. Go Tigers,” said Moore.
“We had some very good volunteer help this year,” he continued. “We usually have that but it was even more so this year.”
Despite the heat last Thursday and Friday, there weren’t any medical emergencies at Thresher grounds. “The EMTs and health professionals did a great job. A lot of people took advantage of the ‘cool room’ we had set up in the Welcome Center. People took warnings to heart. We used a lot of ice, over four tons during the four days (Thursday-Sunday),” Moore remarked.
Another Threshers is history and Moore was pleased with the progression of the matters over which the organization had control, but disappointed over the one element over which they didn’t have control.
“We were well-positioned for a great event and weather didn’t let it happen.”
In the event you’re into advance planning, next year’s Threshers is Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2014.