Steam Engine Days celebrate countless family legacies in Mabel

(ABC 6 News) – Small towns aren’t finished with their summer days just yet, as the Mabel, Minnesota and Hesper, Iowa communities have their annual steam engine days this weekend.

The Mabel-Hesper Steam Engine Days have been going on for more than 70 years. At the center of it all, one family has been working hard to make sure the main attraction goes on. The steam engines themselves.

Clara Bergan and Joe Pierce are cousins who were born into the founding family that created Steam Engine Days in 1952.

Their great-grandfather, Gerhard Clauson, hosted the first-ever Steam Engine Days on the family farm between Hesper and Mabel.

Decades later, the Steam Engine Days celebration has its own park dedicated to them.

Bergan and Pierce are fourth-generation engineers.

“I feel like we could give you a tutorial because we have a little pair of Joseph’s very first leather steam engine gloves. They’re big, so I feel like you’ve been living and breathing steam,” said Bergan

“Yeah, I mean we’ve been here every celebration,” added Pierce

“We’ve never missed it,” Bergan said.

Steam Engine Days has become a tradition and reunion for their family, so much so, that they have started their own traditions outside of the festivities each Steam Engine weekend.

“We like to cook food in the front of every engine. We cook potatoes, meat, you name it. Just one of those side benefits of what you can do with a steam traction engine,” said Bergan.

Steam Engine Days brings together people of all ages back to town, and it makes Bergan and Pierce proud to be from the family that started it all.

“Obviously it’s a big town celebration but it’s also pretty important to the families as well,” said Pierce.

The second parade for Steam Engines Days will be taking place Sunday at noon.