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Tractors pull, please fans

August 23, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

For the second year in a row, Donnie Koontz showed his skills in the garden tractor pull Friday night at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center south of Hagerstown.

The event was the kick-off of a three-day event sponsored by the Washington County Tractor Club and, despite threatening skies, attracted a large crowd of onlookers and participants.

Now 11, Koontz took first place in the first event Friday night, pulling a dead-weight sled 147 feet, 10 inches in the 700-pound class with his garden tractor "The Rebel."

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In the event open to boys and girls as young as 8, Shelby Diehl took second place in the opening weight class and came back to win the 750-pound event with a pull of 143 feet, 6 inches. She took second in the earlier class.

"We have three generations involved in these activities," said Leonard Lowry, whose son, David Lowry, is president of the tractor club this year.

Longtime farmer and president of the Washington County Farm Bureau for a number of years, Leonard Lowry, now 80, is still active in the farming community.

The garden tractor pull event is only in its second year, said David Lowry. "We saw it done elsewhere and it looked like fun, so we started it here last year."

Weight classes go up in 50-pound increments as weights are added to the tractors with each new class. Helmets are worn by the drivers and special wheels are added to the rear of the tractors to prevent rollovers.

Keedysville residents Mindy Shaffer and her son, Austin, 31/2, watched from the bleachers for her husband, Scott Shaffer, to start in his weight class.

"It's the first time he has competed in the garden tractor category and he's been working very hard to get ready," she said.

Scott Shaffer is employed as a heavy equipment operator for an excavating firm in Frederick County. The family dairy farm was sold several years ago.

"My husband misses the farm but he doesn't miss the cows," his wife said. Working on tractors is his way of keeping involved in farm activities.

Mindy Shaffer said her husband just got another garden tractor and already has plans to work on it for Austin to ride when he is old enough to compete.

"He's got 41/2 years to get ready for that," she said with a smile.

The show, which continues today and Sunday, will feature Allis-Chalmers equipment, a flea market, craft vendors, antique tractor parade, working machinery display, including a saw mill, stone crusher, threshing and gas engines.

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