Lawn rangers saddle Wheelhorses for fair

Farm festival to feature return of tractor pull with souped up mowers

Carroll County

July 26, 2002|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

This year's Carroll County 4-H fair includes a tractor pull, but don't expect to see the powerful farm machines that work the fields.

This tractor pull features machinery designed to mow suburban lawns.

The "garden tractor pull," returning after several years, is set for 6 p.m. tomorrow - the fair's opening day.

The contest has some Carroll County youngsters souping up their engines. Derek Wagner, 16, has modified a Cub Cadet 104 tractor built in 1965.

"I've restored the factory paint colors and rebuilt the engine to make it more powerful," Derek said. "I made the piston size bigger to give it more horsepower. It started out as a 16-horsepower engine, and it's a lot more now."

Derek said he has good reason to choose the older model over a newer tractor.

"It's built out of heavier materials," he said, "so it will be stronger to pull the weight."

Derek's brothers, 14-year-old twins Dustin and Travis, also will enter tractors in the event. The brothers and their father, Royce Wagner, are members of the Power Take Club, which sponsors the tractor pull.

The club's 10 active members "literally tore their tractors apart and rebuilt them" for the competition, Royce Wagner said.

The event is expected to draw more than 100 entries, including from Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.

The garden tractor pull will include: stock class, for a basic factory tractor; stock modified, for a tractor with enhanced horsepower; stock altered, where, as Royce Wagner put it, "almost anything goes"; and pro stock. First place in each category wins $100.

The garden tractors will start pulling - or trying to pull - 1,400 pounds and will increase to as much as 3,500 pounds for the pro stock tractors, Wanger said. The tractors pull a sled-like structure with weights attached that move closer to the tractor, increasing the drag weight, making it harder to pull.

To add more suspense to the event, "We also changed the speed of the sled, how fast the weight is pulled up on the sled," Wagner said. "You start off real easy, but by 100 feet, it starts to get real hard."

The rumble of lawn tractor engines will join the grunts from the show swine and the baahing of the sheep and the other traditional sounds at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair at the Agriculture Center in Westminster.

Poultry events at the fair - and others throughout Maryland - have been canceled because of an order from state agricultural officials. They are working to prevent an outbreak of avian influenza in Virginia from spreading to Maryland.

The 4-H'ers who normally show chickens instead will have displays, posters and information on poultry and the avian influenza that will be set up in the poultry building, said Denise Frebertshauser, 4-H extension educator.

The fair will feature the usual activities that focus on 4-H projects - food, clothing, other animals, crafts, gardening, photography, performing arts, handyman skills and writing.

Other events: a family fun fest tomorrow; the farm queen contest and parade Sunday; daily musical entertainment by local groups; home-cooked food in the hall; racing pigs; children's day Tuesday; cake auction Wednesday; senior citizen day Thursday; and the livestock sale Aug. 2.

"Four-H is celebrating 100 years - the anniversary is tied into our whole program all year," Frebertshauser said. "Our theme for the fair is All American Power of Youth."

The 4-H'ers will have a centennial basket and stamp and first-day cover to sell with a quilt raffle.

"Every club has quilted a square that represents their club and it's been put together and it's absolutely gorgeous," Frebertshauser said. "It also has additional squares with all the other entities, like Cooperative Extension, Future Farmers of America and the University of Maryland, that were done by 4-H volunteers."

A grandparents essay contest is a new event. About 30 entries from 4-H'ers and the public have been submitted. They will be judged and winners announced during senior citizen day.

Ben Jones, who played Cooter on the Dukes of Hazzard, will appear with the show's car, the General Lee. "Cooter has a band that will perform Sunday and he's absolutely fabulous with the kids," Frebertshauser said. The fair will conclude with the livestock auction at 5:30 p.m. and a dance at 8 p.m. for the 4-H/FFA youngsters Aug. 2.

The agriculture center is on Smith Avenue in Westminster next to the farm museum. Information: 410-848-FAIR.

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