One of my stops when visiting rural Alberta was the village of Markerville, a farming community built by Icelandic immigrants northwest of Calgary. Markerville has a popular ice cream shop, which was the main reason I visited. While I was enjoying my scoop of chocolate ice cream, I heard an announcer’s voice echoing in the distance. I couldn’t understand what was being said, but had to find out what was going on.
I walked over the pedestrian bridge across the Red Deer River and was surprised to find a colorful collection of tractors in the town’s baseball field, with a scattering of antique cars and other farm equipment.
I’d come across a “tractor pull” that was part of weekly series of events held throughout rural Alberta, organized by an antique tractor association. Basically they’re a group of people (mostly farmers) who travel around with their antique tractors and participate in these gatherings as often as they can during the summer months. This one in Markerville was part of the village’s Pioneer Days celebration.
The weekend was winding down and rain was heading our way, so some of the tractors were being loaded onto trailers for their journey home, but there was still a tractor pull going on. As I’d never been to one before, I asked one of the participants to explain to me what’s involved in a tractor pull. The pull involves an antique tractor pulling a heavy weight on a sled across a dirt path as far as it can before it comes to a stop. Every participant gets two chances and the mean of their pull distances determines their final score — top score wins.
It might seem straight forward, but there are subtilties to winning a tractor pull, like not overinflating the tractors tires, knowing how to accelerate (you don’t want to spin your wheels), etc. Beyond my ability to appreciate the nuances, but everyone seemed to be having a good time and it was fun to watch.
I spent about an hour watching the contest and taking photos of these lovely old machines, which form the core of this blog.
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