FOREST CITY | Lowell Cheney watched with interest Thursday as a steam engine was used to operate a thresher at Heritage Park of North Iowa.

"It was a lot of hard work back then," said the retired farmer from Roca, Nebraska.

Cheney has been to many steam shows, but this was his first visit to the Steam Threshing Festival in Forest City.

He said he was in high school in 1944 when the transition from horses to tractors took place on his family's farm.

Even more changes in farming have taken place since he retired.

"I wouldn't know how to farm the way they do it nowadays," he said.

The first day of the four-day Steam Threshing Festival featured all kinds of antique power demonstrations, including steam plowing, shelling and ensilage cutting. 

Lots of black smoke was in the air from all the steam engines.

Roger Madsen and John Elling, both from Minnesota, placed logs in a steam-powered veneer mill. 

The veneer mill "has been sitting here for a long time, 20 years I guess," Elling said.

However, last year was the first time they got it running.

"We are slowly improving the operation of it," Cheney said.

A concrete block was put in place between last year's show and this one so it is no longer "sitting in the dirt," he said.

The 25th National Rumely Expo took place at the Steam Threshing Festival. The Rumely Company was founded in 1853 in La Porte, Ind.

Among the Rumely exhibitors at the expo were Glen and Lois Brown of Le Sueur, Minn.

They brought several Rumely tractors and a plow with them.

It was their third visit to the Forest City festival. 

Glen said they like the event because there's "a lot of big engines."

There's also a lot of room at Heritage Park for the festival, he noted.

The Browns also like the camping facilities on site. 

"You don't have to worry about getting a hook-up for the camper," Glen said.