OT attendance down, rain to blame

The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion dipped in attendance by 4,000 guests this year compared to the last two years, making the year ahead ?tough? financially for the nonprofit organization, which largely relies on revenue made over the five-day reunion.

CEO Terry McWilliams chalks it up to the weather. ?This year, Mother Nature ran the show,? he said.

Attendance during the reunion was around 31,000 guests, compared with close to 36,000 guests in 2017 and 2016. This year, 15,998 of those guests opted for one-day passes. Early-bird tickets were purchased by 10,000 guests, compared to 2017?s 9,000 advance ticket sales.

The largest day of the reunion was Saturday, Sept. 1. While the second-highest attendance day is traditionally followed by Sunday, this year, Thursday, Aug. 30 took second for largest turnout of guests.

McWilliams said the decrease in guests will make the next year until the 2019 reunion ?tough.? While most businesses run daily, the majority of Old Threshers? revenue is brought in during the Reunion, he said.

The financial hit will be seen in Old Threshers? decreased donations to other ?folks? throughout the year, McWilliams said.

The Reunion kicked off with a storm Tuesday, Aug. 28 after many vendors in Central Park had already set up for Crafts in the Park and tractors had already been organized on the grounds. Thanks to volunteers, streets were cleared of trees and debris by the time of the Old Threshers? Parade on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Throughout the rest of the week, the radar looked threatening with storms on the horizon, but little rain was had during the five-day Reunion. Regardless, McWilliams said a bad forecast will impact visitors. If they wake up to rain, it will affect their decision to come to the grounds that day, he said.

During the concert on Saturday, Sept. 1, McWilliams said it rained all around Mt. Pleasant but not out at the grandstand. That wasn?t the case on Sunday night, when performers continued to play through a downpour.

Throughout the bad weather, the love for the Reunion and community was evident with droves of volunteers who assisted in cleaning the grounds and Mt. Pleasant after the storm.

?Without the spirit, volunteerism and work ethic, it might have been a different story,? McWilliams said.