Tractor pull, tug of war are fair traditions

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Competitors in last year's Bedford County Fair tug-of-war steel themselves for action. (Bedford County Fair photo by Larry Brown)

The Bedford County Fair Truck and Smoker Tractor Pull is more than a chance for motorheads to flex their gears and show off their chassis. It's just one facet of the entire fair experience -- keeping rural Bedford County alive and well in the minds of this generation and the generations to come.

That's how Jeff Sullivan feels about it. As the volunteer event director for the tractor pull since its inception 11 years ago, he thinks the event is an important part of farming heritage.

"When I was a little kid, I liked going with my parents to the tractor pull," he said. "I like to see the younger kids getting to do the same thing."

The term "smoker tractor" comes from the diesel exhaust the machines emit when they're really powered up, Sullivan said.

"They blow a lot of smoke -- it looks like a big tornado coming out of the exhaust pipe," he said.

There are eight classes in this year's event, which takes place July 23, the Thursday night of fair week, which runs July 20-25 at the Ag Center on Midland Road.

Cash prizes are offered for the top three winners in each class, including a $1,000 first place purse for the 9300 Super Farm class. The classes are 9300 Super Farm; 5500 Super Stock 4 x 4; 10,000 Hot Farm; 5500 Hot Rod; Stock 4x4; Stock Diesel Truck; 12,000 Hot Farm; and Bedford County Stock Truck.

"It seems like the stock diesel truck class and the Bedford County stock truck class bring in a pretty good crowd," said Sullivan.

Because the event is so popular, the gate fee for the fair that night will be $10 instead of the usual $5, but those with family week passes don't have to pay more to go to the tractor pull or the Elvis impersonator show, also being held that night.

Muscles will also be put to the test Thursday night in the Tug-of-War competition, at no additional cost. Those who want to sign up a team can contact Ray Pimental at 685-9041.

"A lot of places where they have a tractor pull, they'll charge $30 just for that," said Judy Gambill, chairman of the county fair. "We don't have the facilities to separate it so people can go to just that and nothing else."

The Smoker Tractor Pull at each year's Bedford County Fair is always a popular event. (Bedford County Fair photo by Larry Brown)

Any money raised by the event -- and any left over after the thousands in prize money have been handed out -- is turned over to the fair and the Ag Center. Some of it comes back to the tractor pull in a different form, such as the concrete safety barriers put in shortly after the accident in Selmer in 2007, when a race car in a parade spun out and killed several bystanders. Another improvement to come includes improved lighting on the track.

Ticket prices

Different activities and different opportunities have led to a different pricing structure for tickets this year at the fair.

Monday, July 20

Gates open at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $5 per person; children and under free

Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $15; individual ride tickets also available

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities

Tuesday, July 21

Gates open at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $10 per person and include the unlimited ride wristband; children 6 and under are free, but if they want the unlimited ride wristband, they must also pay $10.

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities

Wednesday, July 22

Gates open at 4 p.m. -- 10 a.m. for senior citizens

Tickets are $5 per person; children and under free; senior citizens tickets are $2

Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $15; individual ride tickets also available

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities

Thursday, July 23

Gates open at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $10 per person; children and under free. The unlimited ride wristbands are not included.

Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $15; individual ride tickets also available

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities, including the Smoker Tractor Pull, the Tug-of-War competition and the Elvis impersonator show.

Friday, July 24

Gates open at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $5 per person; children and under free

Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $15; individual ride tickets also available

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities

Saturday, July 25

Gates open at 9 a.m.

Tickets are $5 per person; children and under free

Wristbands for unlimited carnival rides are $15; individual ride tickets also available

Gate fee allows admission to all fair activities

Family week passes

For $30, a family of four can get a weekly pass to the fair. While the family pass does get the family in every night, and into the tractor pull and the other special Thursday activities at no additional cost, it does not include the unlimited ride wristband, even on Tuesday. For any additional family, it will be an additional $10 per member.

Senior Citizens Day

Wednesday, July 22 will be Senior Citizens Day and the gates will open at 10 a.m. Tickets for the seniors will only be $2 each and special events are planned throughout the day, including a special luncheon and entertainment.