In August of 1963, Ray Kestel originated a yearly threshing bee on the Ed Kestel farm in Will County, Illinois. In subsequent years, the show was held at the Ray Kestel farm three miles south of New Lenox. On February 15, 1966, Ray called a meeting to propose that an organization be formed to support the annual show celebrating old-time agricultural methods. The forty-five men in attendance approved Ray's plan, and the Will County Threshermen's Association was born. Ray served as the club's president for its first five years. The organization's purpose is to honor and preserve America's agricultural legacy. It is especially appropriate that Will County host such an association, for a significant chapter in American history took place there.
The Will County Threshermen's Association continues to commemorate America's agricultural heritage by sponsoring an annual show at the Historic
Round Barn Farm located in Manhattan, Illinois. Long-time friends of the organization remember that, in its early years, the show took place at the Fred Francis 4-H Field in New Lenox. At the fourth annual show, twenty-five acres of oats were fed through a steam-powered thresher while plowing with oxen, horses, and steam engines made history come to life. An ad promised ten steam engines, thirty gasoline tractors, twenty-five gasoline engines, and fifteen antique automobiles. By the 1970s, the show had grown and moved to the Peotone Fairgrounds. Later, it moved to Burns Woods, and in 2004, to the Dollinger Farm.
Beginning in 2013, the site of the big four-day event
is the Round Barn Farm in Manhattan,