By JOHN H. WALKER And MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PINETOPS — One thing’s for certain, the first-time attendee at the Pinetops 300 truck and tractor pull will learn something in a hurry … these are not your Daddy and Grandaddy’s tractors!
Some of the best known and most successful pullers in the country will converge School Street here tonight and Saturday to vie for honors in the longest running not-for-profit tractor pull in the Southeastern United States.
In fact, the Pinetops 300, which is in its 37th year, kicks off the NTPA (National Tractor Pull Association) season, is a featured event on the NTPA Facebook page and offers the first opportunity for pullers to earn points towards the NTPA points championship.
Sponsored by the South Edgecombe Rural Fire Department, proceeds of the event help provide much-needed equipment for the department and helps keep taxes lower on property owners as well, said Chester Lancaster, who lives, eats and breathes the pull until another year is completed.
The Pinetops 300 has won numerous awards, including the 2010 National Tractor Pullers Association Regional/ National Pull of the Year. Judging from past years’ attendance, Lancaster expects about 5,000 people to attend the two-night event. The event traditionally draws people from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan — states where tractor pulling is popular.
Prizes will be awarded in a number of classes, including the ever-popular four-wheel drive class. Up for the taking is a purse of more than $40,000, which will be split between the two nights of the event and six classes.
The Pinetops 300 will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday and won’t end until at least 11 p.m. each night.
“This is not a one-hour show; it’s a long event,” said Lancaster. This year, a Saturday morning event will add to the weekend fun in Pinetops.
“Every year we try to evolve something new. This year, we’ve taken on a joint venture with the SouthWest Edgecombe High School Band. They are having a car show that day (Saturday) starting at 10 a.m. We’re trying to make this event more like a festival, all weekend,” said Lancaster. The car show will take place in downtown Pinetops, at the intersection of Hamlet and First Street.
He said Pinetops 300 has developed a reputation as a “good family event” attended by people of all ages. Folks at the truck and tractor pull will have their pick of fair-style foods, including roasted corn, smoked turkey legs, chicken wings, hot dogs and funnel cakes. Alcohol won’t be sold, but event attendees can bring their own, as long as they maintain orderly conduct. The Pinetops Police Department will handle security at the event.
All the proceeds from the Pinetops 300 will benefit the South Edgecombe Rural Fire Department, and the event typically raises between $25,000 and $35,000 for the department. Lancaster said everything from diesel fuel to firefighting equipment is “very expensive,” and the department had 375 fire and first responder calls last year.
Admission to the Pinetops 300 is $20 for adults and $6 for children ages 12 and under. Children will be admitted free Friday night with a paying adult.