Growing up in a small town with family members who have farms or have raised 4-H animals, you would think I would know a little something about tractors or farming. And, you would be dead wrong. I had nothing to do with 4-H, the county fairs, farming, animals…not even the slightest bit of interest…and maybe a bit of stubborn refusal to participate.
Then fate stepped in and blessed me with two boys. To say they love tractors would be putting it mildly. “Tractor” (or “tack-tow” as he pronounces it) was one of my youngest’s first words. Being back in Bedford surrounded by tractors, going to the tractor pull was inevitable. The fact that their PapPap participates obviously made the decision to go that much easier and more exciting for the kids.
So on Saturday afternoon, we headed over the mountain to New Enterprise, PA to the tractor pull hosted by Southern Cove Power Reunion.
A car ride with a toddler and preschooler involves games and “I Spy”. This trip involved climbing up the mountain, all the way to the sky, with only the sights of trees and purple flowers around us and being able to see across the valley to the top of the next mountain. It was like being on top of the world. Then we drove down the other side. When we came back down, it was a view of rolling hills, stretches of land, houses here and there. Mainly it was fields, barns, and silos.
And of course, cows. Now, if you have ever been in the car with young kids, you know they love animals. If your kids are like mine, they absolutely must point out and let you know every time they see an animal. That led us into a chorus of “moos” coming from the back seat and further into making the sounds of every farm animal imaginable. It may have been a loud car ride, but it passed the time for the boys as they pointed out the sights.
Upon reaching our destination, the chorus of “moos” turned to the sound of “I see a tractor and another one and another one”. It was hard not to get wrapped up in their excitement, to see the pure joy on their faces.
There was a dirt track for the pulls. An announcement stand was on one side and bleachers on the other filled with an audience of all ages. Cars, trucks, and tractors were parked in the surrounding fields. (There was a concession stand but we didn’t venture over to see what they had to offer. A small playground with swings used to be there but it currently is not in use due to trees that have fallen in the area.)
Regardless of what wasn’t there, my boys eyes were glued to the tractors that were moving in front of them. They were not even the slightest bit bothered by the sounds or smells of the tractors but took it all in. We sat on the bleachers watching. PapPap was flagging the tractors in the beginning. Red flag to tell the drivers if they needed to stop, green to go. Two tractors stayed on the track most of the time smoothing out the dirt between pulls. Two different tractor classes were able to pull simultaneously thanks to the use of two different sleds (which apparently is what the large machines are called that the tractors were pulling down the track).
- Antique – tractors from 1959 and earlier
- Farm stock – tractors from 1960 and later
- Open – tractors that have been modified
The antique and farm stock class tractors must be in their manufactured condition. Open class tractors can be altered. Other specifications may apply. There are multiple weight classes for each category ranging from 3000lbs to 15,500lbs. Although some tractors may still be in use on the family farms, most of the tractors used in the pulls are now used just for pulls or tractor shows, not general farm use.
During the tractor pull, the contestant drives up in his/her tractor, a sled is attached to the back of the tractor using a chain, and the driver is off. He pulls the sled as far as he can until the tractor starts bouncing, the wheels spin out, or it just won’t go any further. The weight of the sled is changed for each class.
PapPap explained that he drives slowly and watches the wheels as he drives so he can adjust the brakes or speed if one starts spinning. It is still over my head. Clearly, there is a science or method to the way they drive when pulling. It is something each of these drivers, young and old, has worked to perfect, getting better with each drive. The weather, the feel of the ground each day, the weight of the tractor can impact a drive. Each pull is a good mix of luck and precise driving.
After one of his pulls, PapPap drove the tractor over to the trailer and started adding weights. Who knew weights could be or ever would be added to tractors. The added weights made it so he could participate in two different weight classes by making the tractor heavier.
All-in-all it was a great day. The boys enjoyed every moment of seeing different types of tractors driving around them. Both boys had a chance to sit on the tractor with PapPap which just put them over the moon. Day made. They talked about tractors (and cows again) the entire drive home. When PapPap got home with the tractor, they had another opportunity to sit and revel in their love of tractors.
Seeing a tractor pull is a must for anyone who has kids fascinated by tractors. Apparently there are pulls offered by other organizations as well. Southern Cove Power Reunion tractor pulls are done once per month. I am sure we will be headed that way again soon.