WAPAKONETA — The National Tractor Pullers Association tractor pull at the Auglaize County Fair was slow in getting into the regular rotation.
The fans’ love of power has helped keep it there.
The event has been a mainstay and a top drawing event for 10 years. Fair director Fred Piehl said it wasn’t easy getting it there.
“We had a few tractor pulls here and there every couple years,” Piehl said, “but we were never able to get a NTPA event here.”
Piehl said that all changed when Toby Kramer joined the fair board. Kramer knew people involved with the circuit and quickly began making arrangements to get an NTPA sanctioned event at the fair. The event is now a crowd-pleaser every year.
“I tell people it is a million-dollar show,” Piehl said. “There is literally millions of dollars of equipment out there.”
All the money on that equipment is spent on power, and that is what makes the show so popular.
Darren Sturgill said he attends the event every year.
“It is a lot of fun to see the power these trucks have,” Sturgill said.
Driver Steve Elchinger said that is also what draws drivers and their crews to the NTPA. He said it comes along with trying to find sponsors, because it is not cheap.
“Fans love the horsepower and they love the noise,” Elchinger said. “That is why you need to find sponsors. It is tough trying to do it without the sponsors.
Elchinger said drivers also enjoy the friendships they develop.
“You become friends with a lot of people and there is a lot of fun in that,” he said. “And the fans are a lot of fun to see.”
The event was the headliner on the closing night at the fair, which enjoyed great weather the entire week. Piehl said attendance had been up about 14 percent earlier this week and that it looked like that number might increase after Saturday.
“It was one heck of a run this year,” Piehl said. “We had nice days and it was always cool at night. All of the events were always packed. It puts pressure on us to follow up on a very successful fair next year.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm