September 26, 2021

Original horsepower at Half Century show

RANTOUL, Ill. — Heat and humidity didn’t deter thousands of visitors from filling the runways and taxiways of the former Chanute Air Force Base for the Half Century of Progress to see historic farm equipment in action.

Along with the countless classic machinery exhibited at the biennial show were those pulled by the original horsepower.

Jeff Glazik of nearby Paxton was among those with draft horses and farm equipment giving demonstrations, including his single-row McCormick-Deering corn binder, last patented in 1903.

McCormick-Deering corn binders were built by International Harvester and developed to reduce the burdensome labor of cutting and shocking during harvest.

“Back in the late 1880s, 1890s and up into the 1930s, they would bind corn just like they would bind wheat, then shock it into bundles and let it dry out in the field. It was easy to store. You could store it all winter like that, and it wouldn’t have to take up crib space,” Glazik said.

“They were picking corn by hand. Then they would come back out, load it onto a hayrack and pitch it into a husker shredder or into a chopper for silage mostly for winter cattle feed.”

Glazik has had the single-row horse-drawn corn binder for about 30 years.

“A neighbor used to have it, and he just gave it to me since I had horses. He just wanted to see it keep being used and someone to take care of it,” Glazik noted.

He’s been raising primarily Percheron draft horses for about 40 years. He’s also had some Belgians in the past.

Glazik’s interest in draft horses goes back to a chance encounter during his time serving in the U.S. Navy.

“I was stationed in California and started going to rodeos. At one of the rodeos an old guy came out there with a team of horses and disking up the rodeo arena. I just thought it was so cool watching those big horses work, and I thought if I ever get an opportunity I’m going to buy me a team of horses. I finally got that opportunity and I did and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” he said.

Half Century of Progress draws visitors from across the nation and internationally primarily because displays aren’t stationary like in a museum. The thousands of daily visitors see the machinery in action just as they would have decades or even a century ago.

Glazik also serves as coordinator for the show’s horse farming displays and demonstrations and enjoys showcasing the original horsepower during the popular show.

“The moms and kids like to come up and pet the horses. Most of the draft horses are petty docile anyway. They’re very gentle,” he added.

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor