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Kids put pedals to the metal

August 05, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

You don't need your two front teeth to do well in the pedal tractor pull at the Washington County Ag Expo.

Just ask 6-year-old Carol DeBaugh.

"It was fun," said the Boonsboro redhead as she heard "30 feet 9 inches" yelled out as her official qualifying performance.

The unique competition Sunday evening pitted 72 youngsters against gravity - pulling an ever-increasing weight behind a toy farm tractor powered only by the endurance of their little legs and the strength of their resolve.

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All kinds of techniques were employed. Some children grunted and got red in the face. Others smiled and laughed as their friends and family members cheered them on.

Despite the heat and humidity, the event drew scores of onlookers, many of whom were proud parents and beaming grandparents.

"There were 72 kids altogether in three age groups," said Bonnie Beckley of the Washington County Farm Bureau, whose women's committee sponsored the event.

Maggie Sullivan, 6, of Hagerstown said she signed up because she thought it would be fun. And judging by her big smile when she finished, Maggie accomplished her goal.

Sebastian Archer of New York was getting a dose of country living with his first excursion into tractor pulling. While the 5-year-old didn't make it to the end of the tough course, he got a sticker and a goodie bag, as did all participants.

"The sled the children pull gets harder to move as they go forward," said Jeff Semler, 4-H educator with the Washington County Extension Service.

Lonnie Thomas of Boonsboro was in the competition last year and did OK, he said. This time, the 7-year-old was hoping to improve on his performance and win this year.

His dad, Tracy Thomas, was in the stands cheering on his son.

"I raise beef cattle for a living," Tracy Thomas said. "I'm third-generation in farming and if Lonnie stays in farming, he will be fourth-generation."

But he acknowledges that every year, it gets harder and harder to make a living as a farmer.

Part of a farm family that has an 84-head dairy herd, Tammy DeBaugh had three youngsters in Sunday's pedal tractor pull, including Carol, who broke the 30-foot mark, and 5-year-old Cory, who made it the whole way. Her eldest son Scott, 8, was still waiting his turn.

"My husband, Matt, milks cows with his dad and his brother," Tammy DeBaugh said. "I like the encouragement these events give our kids. Plus it's fun for all of us."

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