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42nd annual Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmer show celebrates rural America

A 1910 Rumley Steam Engine tractor -- the pride of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers -- regularly chugs through the showgrounds and leads the daily tractor parade. The 25-horsepower, twin cylider engine is famous among collectors.1 / 8
Brandon Morris volunteered to share blacksmithing techniques from the early 1900s. The LIRPF blacksmith shop is operated by members of the Northern Minnesota Blacksmiths.2 / 8
The "Great Itasca Railray" was in full operation last weekend. Four miniature locamotives tugged kids and adults around 1,500 feet of track, a covered bridge and a trestle bridge.3 / 8
The LIRPF show is a family-friendly event.4 / 8
Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers demonstrate "cross-haul log loading" with a team of horses. The Hemmerich Logging Museum, seen in the background, is located on Sawmill Hill.5 / 8
Vintage saws -- drag, handheld or two-person -- were all part of Sawmill Hill pageantry.6 / 8
Don Fradenburgh helps Mason Glanden of Bemidji built a bird house. Fradenburgh and his wife, Glenda, were named this year's button honorees for their volunteerism at the annual show.7 / 8
Millie Dickinson, Donna Dickinson, Trudy Wastweet and Sarah Perez prepare fresh lefse, one of the most popular dishes at the show.8 / 8

Every imaginable engine, tractor and equipment snorted, huffed and belched at the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers (LIRPF) show.

The non-profit organization invites visitors to "reach into rural America's past" during the three-day festival.

All of the members are volunteers with the common aim of preserving historic, rural agriculture and logging.

Daily demonstrations included threshing, sawmill action, blacksmithing and logging.

Incorporated in 1976, LIRPF has been located by Itasca State Park since 1990.

"I've been a member since 1979," said Gayden Stenseng, who volunteers in the Reid Engine Building and Stenseng Gas Engine Building, two of the showground's 36 historic exhibit halls.

He grew up on a farm, later opening his own repair shop in Bagley.

"Like every farm around here, we didn't have a lot, so you made do with what you had," he said.

Stenseng's son and grandkids help at the show as well.

"I've got some granddaughters. They've both got tractors here," he said. "I'm proud of them. They've been straight-A students."

The Stenseng family camps onsite for the LIRPF "reunion."

About three years ago, Stenseng said, the club bought the neighboring 57 acres in order to accommodate the number of RV and pop-up campers.

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