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AFP Correspondent

HARRINGTON, Del. The 26th Annual Antique Tractor Pull put on by the Delaware Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers is a “go” for the 2020 Delaware State Fair. It will be held on the last Saturday of the fair, on Aug. 1, at the fairgrounds in Harrington.

There are four divisions: two that include tractors manufactured before 1965 and two of tractors manufactured before 1973.

“Entries are limited to 120 hooks. In the past, we’ve normally had about 80, but with COVID-19, there are not as many shows going on for pullers, so we anticipate this will be a big year,” said Steve Breeding, chairman of the YF&R tractor pull committee.

The tractor pull, YF&R’s biggest fundraiser, normally attracts entries not only from Delaware but from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and, once in a while, from Virginia. The oldest tractor will probably be from the mid-1930s. The newest allowed is 1975.

All tractors in their respective classes pull a set weight in the drag (sled). When a tractor gets to the end of the 100-meter track, this is known as a “full pull.” 

When more than one tractor completes the course, more weight is added to the drag, and those competitors who moved past 91 meters (300 feet) will compete in a pull-off; the winner is the one who can pull the drag the farthest.

The sled is known as a weight transfer drag. This means that, as it is pulled down the track, the weight is transferred (linked with gears to the drag’s wheels) from over the rear axles and towards the front of the drag. In front of the rear wheels, instead of front wheels, there is a ‘pan.’ 

This is essentially a metal plate, and as the weight moves toward it, the resistance between the pan and the ground builds. The farther the tractor pulls the drag, the more difficult it gets.

In simpler terms, Breeding said, “It’s like pushing a scoop shovel of snow up hill. As the tractor gets bigger, the weight can go up to 20,000 pounds.”

What’s the grand prize? “They get trophies,” Breeding said, “but it’s all about bragging rights — a bunch of guys bragging about a $10 trophy. One I can think of has $50,000 in his tractor. They’ve got money in them; they are proud of them. Everybody’s got a hobby, and these guys, that’s what they do.”

Breeding also has a tractor, but being chairman, he said, he may bring it and not even unload it. “I’m usually too busy to play.”

Breeding has been in charge of the tractor pull for about 10 years. “I enjoy making everything happen,” he said. “I appreciate the help from all the YF&R and Farm Bureau members. I can’t guess how many man hours… It takes a lot of people a lot of hours to put this on.

“Teddy (Bobola, YF&R chairman) is the task master. He makes sure everyone does their jobs. We’ve all done it so long that we have our own roles and work together to get it all done.”

The tractor pull was originally held on the track at the state fair, but for many years since has been held in Quillen arena, an open air, 80,500-square-foot facility. Breeding said as of the end of June, spectators will be allowed, with masks and social distancing.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with weigh-ins and is generally over by 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Delaware Farm Bureau at 302-697-3183.