Frank Van den Dorpel tries to start a 1910 International Harvester gasoline engine as Ray Ramey (left) watches during an open house at the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association site on March 18, 2017. The ATA site will be re-opening on Aug. 15, 2020 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Historic threshermen’s site set to re-open this weekend in Chilliwack

‘It’s a huge test run for us to see how it all works,’ says Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association president

When the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association (ATA) site re-opens on Saturday, it’ll be a test run for the club’s coming years.

“Our whole future [will depend on] what we do as a club to maintain our safety and maintain the public’s safety,” said Ray Ramey, ATA president. “It’s a huge test run for us to see how it all works.”

On Aug. 15, the Chilliwack site featuring historic agricultural equipment will be opening its doors for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

It was a difficult decision to make. Some of the ATA’s 100 members were wary since about a third of them are in their 70s and 80s, Ramey said.

“It’s very unsure, unstable ground. We have to set our own regulations and number one is protecting our elderly.”

They’ll be doing that through a number of new protocols.

There will be a map guiding people through the site in one direction. The doors to buildings will remain open and people are reminded to keep two metres away from others.

Masks will be required in the Pioneer building. They are also recommending people wear masks throughout the entire site, Ramey said.

When people visit, they will see many upgrades that members have undertaken over the past several months.

There’s a section of the Pioneer building, above where the vintage cars sit, that has been transformed into an old gas station.

“It looks pretty nifty,” Ramey said.

Numerous other smaller buildings have been repainted, cleaned up and new roofing has been installed.

“Our basic plan is to figure out what we’re doing for COVID. In the long run this is what we’re going to be dealing with next year, too. It’s not ending this year,” he said.

After Saturday’s re-opening, it will not be open Sunday as the site will “rest” before opening again. Ramey said he’s hoping they can be open for future weekends, but that all depends on how well Aug. 15 goes.

The ATA site will be re-opening on Saturday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is located at 44146 Luckakuck Way, beside Chilliwack Heritage Park.

Donations are accepted on site. Information will be taken at the gate for contact tracing purposes.

READ MORE: History brought to life at engine show in Chilliwack


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