Doughty Valley Steam’s pull adds a unique spin

Doughty Valley Steam’s pull adds a unique spin

Image Credit: File

Tractor pulls are always big business in Amish Country, but the annual Doughty Valley Steam Days tractor pull set to take place Friday, July 22 on the farmstead just north of Charm is so much more than just your basic tractor pull.

This one is reserved for antique tractors, and the sled itself creates a pulling element that has caught the attention of tractor pullers far and wide.

Larry Yoder, who heads up the tractor portion of Doughty Valley Steam Days, said the pull has doubled in size time and again over the past couple of years, as more tractors have brought in even larger crowds.

Yoder said when the event began, it was about 15 tractors, none of them larger than 8,500 pounds. Now it is close to 100 tractors with some weighing in at nearly 20,000 pounds.

“These guys are putting on a great show,” Yoder said. “It’s unique, and we see a lot of people smiling and enjoying it because it isn’t high-pressure competition, although these guys are pretty competitive.”

The Doughty Valley Steam pull also uses a unique method of pulling in that it loads a tractor onto a sled and then pulls steel plates. Yoder said it is a unique way to create the pull, saying of the event, “It’s halfway between a dead-weight pull and a transfer pull.”

Yoder said the tractor puts its back wheel on the sled, and as the sled progresses down the track, the tractor on the sled moves back, transferring weight.

“That is why we call this an old-fashioned tractor pull, and it seems like everyone really enjoys it,” Yoder said.

To participate in the pull, drivers need to bring in their tractor on the night of the show and sign in. It is open to all, with several different categories and weight classes, and Yoder said with no scales on the premises, they appreciate when a driver can tell them what their tractor weighs so they can put it into the appropriate class.

With over 100 pullers expected and around 30 hooks throughout the evening, it’s no wonder this pull has gained traction quickly.

The entry fee into the steam show is $5 while the entry fee to participate in the tractor pull is $15 per tractor, and that will allow participants to pull all night if they want. The pull will begin with the lighter tractors and work its way up to the big boys to end the evening, and drivers may bring multiple tractors to pull.

The event featuring old-fashioned tractors has drawn competitors from all over the Midwest, and with the steam engines providing a unique background, it makes for a fun night.

“We only allow old-fashioned tractors in the pull,” Yoder said. “We aren’t super-particular, but we ask that there are not tractors pulling over 10 mph, and we don’t want modified tractors.”

He said the site does host modified pulls at the facility over the course of the year, but this one is designed for the old-timers.

“We keep this one very laid back because it goes with the theme of the steam show, and I think people appreciate that,” Yoder said.

With the tractor pull comes the tractor games at 2 p.m., and they feature a chain in the box competition that has drivers dragging and dropping a 20-foot chain completely into a small box area, a hay wagon backing contest that can be incredibly hard according to Yoder, a tractor obstacle course, and a tractor mad dash that will pit driver versus driver in a sprint to get on their tractor and race to a finish line.

All these competitions add to the allure of the tractor pull, and according to Yoder, “These events are challenging and really fun for the fans to watch and add a lot to the whole tractor show, and they definitely challenge the skills of the drivers.”

While the tractor pull is only a portion of the events at Doughty Valley Steam Days, its presence has upped the interest in the event and brought it to yet another level of success.