Cannon Shoots Bowling Balls At Tractor Show

Organizers of a popular Oklahoma antique tractor event know how to start and end it with a bang - by shooting bowling balls out of a cannon. The cannon was built by Jim Esbenshade, founder and host of the Golden Harvest Days.

He built the cannon out of an oxygen cylinder. One end is cut open to load balls and the other has a compartment to load gunpowder, which is lit with a fuse. Mounted on an axle with old steel wheels from a stationary steam tractor, the cannon is towed to a field on Esbenshade’s Colbert, Okla., farm.

“How much black powder you use controls the distance of how far the bowling balls go. We can make it shoot 2 miles,” Esbenshade says.
People donate old bowling balls that are painted orange so they are easier to find. They are reused until they start breaking apart.

Besides starting the day with cannon fire and ending with a volley of a dozen shots, the cannon serves as the “dinner bell” at noon.
“This thing smokes like cannons from the Civil War, and it’s loud,” Esbenshade says. It’s become a popular part of the annual event held the third weekend in June.

First held in 1994 in honor of his son, Jamie, who died when he was 17, Golden Harvest Days is a working heritage event that includes parades and demonstrations such as plowing and harvesting green beans and corn with antique farm equipment.

The 2021 show is set for June 19 and 20, and information can be found on Facebook.

With the help of friends, Esbenshade, who has a collection of 500 tractors and equipment, is working on a Massey World museum to be finished by 2022 to celebrate Massey’s 175th anniversary.

Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Esbenshade, 2174 Hendrix Rd., Colbert, Okla. 74733 (ph 580 931-7047; farmbarbie1222@yahoo.com; Facebook: Golden Harvest Days in Memory of Jamie Esbenshade).

See a video of the cannon in action:  here