RDO Equipment's tractor pull daws crowd at county fair

<p>Umatilla County Fair Queen Breanna Barton takes a ride at the RDO tractor pull.</p>

The Umatilla County Fair had a lot of stage attractions last weekend. There were bands, magic shows, pirate performances and even a watermelon seed spitting contest. But maybe none had more participation than ROD Equipment’s kids’ tractor pull.

That’s right, more than 72 youngsters, ages 10 and under, took the UCF stage Thursday to show off their pure brute strength – bicycle style.

In a makeshift tractor pull contest, youth used a custom built tricycle frame to haul a weighted tub across the stage. The rules were simple: longest pull wins.

The trailer had a mechanism that used physics to weigh down the load as the participant pedaled farther. The longest pull of the day belonged to Matthew Demianew of Pendleton, who dragged his load 68 inches.

Reinie Fischer, long-time service manager and current customer service representative at RDO in Hermiston, has seen his share of kids’ tractor pulls. The company has been putting them on at the Umatilla and Morrow County fairs for more than 25 years. And the best part? It’s free.

“Nobody has to pull out a check book for this one,” Fischer said. “It’s all for the kids.”

One would think the biggest, strongest competitors would come out on top, but Fischer knows different.

“It’s about being long-legged,” he said.

According to Fischer, the sled pulled weighs between 60-80 pounds. Sometimes a competitor can get the load all the way across the stage. In that case, bricks are added to the “tub,” and the participant restarts, trying to add to his or her score.

The top three placers in each age group (4 and under, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10) received mini model tractors (up to $100 in value) and T-shirts.

Competitors come from all over the state, and even parts of the county, Fischer said. He’s seen kids from Alaska, Montana and Idaho. RDO puts an advertisement in the paper each year. Fischer often gets calls from parents out of town.

“They come from about anywhere,” Fischer said.

One year ago, Fischer had the sled rebuilt by Northwest Metal. After nearly 25 years of use, the rig had begun to wear down and rust. Luckily, improvements were made, and the green and yellow mini-John Deer lookalike was back in business.

The RDO tractor pull has become somewhat of a tradition over the years.

“A lot of these kids who have gone through this, the come back and say, ‘I remember when I did that,’” Fischer said. “Now their college graduates."

The RDO Equipment kids’ tractor pull will make its last appearance of the year this weekend at the Morrow County Fair.

Tractor pull

results

4 and under:

Wyatt Perkins, Hermiston, 62 inches

Thomas Feller, Adams, 57.5 inches

Colter Meads, Hermiston, 57.5 inches

Age 5-6

Tyson Smith, Hermiston, 50.5 inches

Cole Weyand, Stanfield, 43 inches

Kuper Bracher, Helix, 42 inches

Age 7-8

Dylan Smith, Hermiston, 50.5 inches

Andrew Deminanew, Pendleton, 49.5 inches

Tanner Meads, Hermiston, 49.5 inches

Age 9-10

Matthew Demianew, Pendleton, 68 inches

Jordyn Lambert, Athena, 62.5 inches

Ryan Stahl, Stanfield, 60.5 inches

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