Pullin’ into the fair

Chad Frey
This weekend, the Harvey County Fairgrounds will host an antique tractor pull.

While 4-H has moved all Harvey County Fair competitions online and fairground buildings will be empty during the fair, there is a new fair event that will take place — and it will take place this weekend.

At the demolition derby arena, farmers and tractor collectors will gather to see what their vehicles can do for the first SCATA Truck and Antique Tractor Pull.

The event, which will get started about 5 p.m. Saturday, will feature street-legal pickups and stock antique tractors.

“The farm classes, they would be something someone would pull from a fence row or the barn,” said Brandin Peasely, one of the event organizers. “They will hook on and see what they can do.”

Tractor pulls are not totally new to the Harvey County Fair, but there has not been one for decades.

“I pulled back in the 1970s with my dad,” said Myron Regier, of Goessel, who helped organize the event and will have several tractors entered.

There is a bit of irony to having a new event for the fair with so many fair events canceled. There will be no livestock shows or 4-H displays. Also canceled are the fair parade, market at the park, turtle races, ATV rodeo and the annual Ag Fest.

COVID-19 also led to the cancellation of antique tractor pulls in Hillsboro and Abilene. Regier has helped organize the Marion County Fair event for about two decades. He said that when Marion County canceled, he thought about Harvey County. After a couple of phone calls to county fair board members and a tour of the grounds, they were able to put this weekend on the calendar.

“We are going to give guys a place to pull,” Regier said. “ ... I don’t know how it will work on the pocketbook. We’re doing this pretty last minute. Usually you have some time for sponsors and entries. We’re just doing it and worrying about it later.”

It was, in part, finances of event sponsors in Abilene and Hillsboro that led to cancellation of those events. COVID-19 also led to shuttering of nearly all of the Marion County Fair.

“There were COVID issues that prevent sponsors from supporting those events,“ Peaseley said. ”... Social distancing will be encouraged. We are not all gathered up, we are on our tractors. Most are 6 feet wide, you put two together and you will not be too close. We’ll encourage it in the stands.“

With all of those cancellations, the Sumner County Antique Tractor Association wanted a place to compete, and the Harvey County Fair wanted an event. With the help of Myron Regier, a partnership was formed.

“We are hoping to build a relationship and continue on in the future — maybe in conjunction with the fair, but we can do this at any time, ” Peasely said.

Recently the SCATA hosted a similar event at stockyards in Wichita, where there were about 40 competitors and about 100 observers. Peasely said most competitors enter more than one tractor or truck in different classes.

“At the end of the day, we really don’t really win anything, it is a chance to go out and play with our tractors,” Peasely said. “If people come watch us, that is a bonus.”

The pull will feature farm tractors in four classes, and all tractors will be “as stock as possible.” The antique class requires tractors be constructed before 1959. Trucks will compete in classes based on weight.

“It will not be the smoke-blowing stuff you see on television,” Peasely said.

It will be collectible tractors. Regier will have several entries, and other members of his family will be there as well. They collect International Harvester tractors.

“We will also have four loads of tractors coming from Oklahoma and some coming from Topeka. There is some interest,” Regier said. “It is hard to get interest on short notice.”

It will be the first fair event at the fairgrounds for 2020. Still on the calendar for the fair is the Newton Saddle Club Rodeo for July 31 and Aug. 1, mud volleyball Aug. 31 and the demolition derby Aug. 2.

Admission for the truck and tractor pull will be $5 for spectators. Tractors and trucks pay a $15 hook fee. There will be food and drinks available thanks to the Newton FFA.