Horse shows, tractor pulls and more at Brooklyn's 'Ag Days'

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Tue., Jun. 7, 2011
Pete Spong on Sam, his Shire cross, during the recent 'Ag Days.' Photos by D. Coffey.
Pete Spong on Sam, his Shire cross, during the recent 'Ag Days.' Photos by D. Coffey.

The sounds of truck engines offset the sound of horses competing in the gymkhana on Saturday, June 4, at the Brooklyn Fairgrounds. The annual “Ag Days” celebration brought together all things agricultural - draft horses and tractors, disc dogs and donkeys, corn dogs and ice cream – and the people who love them.

“It’s a good old fair,” said Debbie Duffin, as she waited for her husband to check the engine on Junk Yard Dog, the 1942 International pickup she pulls in competition. “We’re glad to be back at Brooklyn. It’s an awesome place to pull. The pits are great.”

Duffin has been pulling for 24 years. It’s no wonder her whole family is involved in the sport. Her husband, Lee, is the mechanical genius that sets the engine straight. Her daughter, Crystal, started pulling three years ago with a 1949 Studebaker. Duffin’s son, Leo, competes on his International Cub Cadet in the Bone Stock class tractor pulls. And cousin Chris Brienzi helps out as they ready for competition.

Drivers in 10 different classes waited for a chance to test their trucks and their driving skills in the pulling contest. There were two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, open carb and super stock, small block and street diesel classes that drew crowds of onlookers. Trucks and drivers weighed in before getting a shot at bragging rights.

Rick Brayton has been pulling for 30 years. A tall, lanky man, Brayton paced the sidelines, watching one truck after another pull the weight sled as far as they could.

“It comes down to traction and horsepower,” he said, “tire pressure and driver ability.” He watched a truck spin its wheels out. It didn’t pull the sled past the cones. “That’s an example of using too much horsepower too soon,” he said.

A few hundred feet away, beyond the stadium seats and across a few rows of parked vehicles, riders and their horses waited to compete in a gymkhana. Riders in three different divisions competed in arena races, a keyhole competition, pole bending and cloverleaf.

Ieshia Wilcox rode her Arabian horse, Spirit, to first place in the arena race for the junior division. Her friend, Cami Wetherell, riding Scout, a Cremello Quarterhorse, won first place in the arena race in the walk/trot division. After the races, each girl gave her blue ribbon to Wilcox’s grandfather, who sat watching in the stands.

“It’s all about the kids,” Henry Wilcox said. “But they keep me in ribbons.” He pinned the blue ribbons to his t-shirt. From his perch on the top rung of bleacher seats, he could watch the truck pulling while the gymkhana events were being set up. Neither horse nor human seemed to mind the bone-rattling sounds of engines straining to pull a sled full of dead weight.

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