MIAMI COUNTY — One by one, each team stepped onto the dirt track, tugged on their gloves, picked up the rope and pulled. Their goal: towing a nearly 4,000 pound tractor over the finish line.
On Sunday at the Miami County Fair, contestants tested their strength and speed in the human tractor pull competition.
After a preview of the event last year, fair organizers were pleased to have eight teams competing in the inaugural competition. They hope this new challenge will become a fair staple in the future.
Teams were scored on how fast they could pull the tractor past the finish line 100 feet away. Two tractors were used in the competition, both antiques on loan from the Miami County Antique Power Association.
With the tractor in neutral, the teams of four pulled one rope. No extra knots could be added and the rope could not be twisted around any part of the body. In the first round, youth competitors pulled an antique Farmall weighing in at around 3,700 pounds and the adults went up against a 4,200 pound John Deere. In the second round, all teams competed with the Farmall.
The contestants ranged in age from 9 to over 50.
The prizes for the best team in each age group were: $200 first place, second place $100, and $50 for third place teams.
Coming in first place in the youth division was Farm Raised & Corn Fed, a team made up of school friends Adam Bensman, Cadence Gross, Jarrett Winner, and Lauren Wright. Their time of 18 seconds in both the first and second round led them to victory and the $200 prize.
While the team members had different goals for their share of the winnings, Wright admitted that hers would likely go towards next year’s competition animals.
In second place were The Buff Boys, Miami East fifth and sixth graders Ethan Fine, Sam Sutherly, Ethan Paulus, and Dustin Winner. The Buff Boys were just one second behind the top scorers, finishing at 19 seconds in the first round and 18 seconds in the second round.
Just 4 Fun — Andy Baker, Chase Brown, Trenton Brown, and Jack Wheelock — came in third with a combined time of 39 seconds.
In the adult division, first place winners Meat & Potatoes included Brian Gross, Matt Gross, Matt Howell, and Jeremy Paulus. Their decision to try their luck in the event was inspired by their children who had already signed up to participate.
Meat & Potatoes had the best time in both rounds: 12 seconds on their first try and 11 in the second round.
“The hardest part was that second pull,” Matt Gross said.
Four brothers united to form the second place team, The Parke Brothers. Ben, Brenan, Brian, and Phil Parke Jr. came in at 15 seconds in the first round and 12 seconds on their second attempt.
The Passive Aggressive Pullers — a team of two married couples Craig and Allison Heitzman and Phil and Shelley Smith — came in third place.
Two other teams competed in the adult division: The Neighbors — Lisa Pence, Tammy Pence, Valerie Petry, and Lacey Sauer — and The Misfits — Terry Bennett, Terry Bennett Jr., Josh Furrow, Rodney Ritter.