Antique tractors roar to life in Denzil

Community Days also featured a bunnock tournament, kids carnival, beer gardens, wiener roast and a dance

Brandon Zimmer of Major takes a shot at the 250-foot track riding his grandfather’s John Deere R tractor during the antique tractor pull on June 16 at Denzil Community Days. Zimmer says he and his grandfather have been pulling together for eight years.

Kenneth Brown
of The Crossroads

Denzil was a place to be last weekend when local organizers held the inaugural Denzil Community Days event. An antique tractor pull was the main attraction.

A large crowd assembled on Saturday for the first day of Denzil Community Days, an event held over two days on June 16 and 17. The event was held at the sports grounds on the west side of the village and it was presented by the Denzil & District Recreation Board.

Willy Crocker of Vermilion, Alta., digs in during one pull with his Minneapolis-Moline GB tractor at the Denzil Community Days antique tractor pull on June 16. The two-day event was held June 16 and 17. Crocker’s pull of 188 1/12 feet was enough to win second place in his class.

The event included an antique tractor pull, a bunnock tournament, a kids carnival, beer gardens, a wiener roast and a dance with a live disc jockey on Saturday night. The tractor pull and bunnock tournament ran both days.

All of the tractors in the competition had to be from 1960 or earlier. Each of the competitors made two pulls and the longest of the two pulls was used to determine their positions. The competitors pulled a weight transfer sled down a 250-foot track that was located between two baseball diamonds.

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Greg Rissling, a member of the recreation board and spokesperson for Denzil Community Days, spearheaded the event with the help of volunteers and sponsors. Rissling, whose father had a passion for restoring tractors, had four tractors at the event, and he said he has been pulling competitively for the past couple of years.

He noted that there were 37 tractors at the event, and 34 of the tractors pulled in the competition while three of the tractors were show pieces. There could have been more tractors at the event, but other pullers were busy spraying crops, he said.

The spokesperson said several of the pullers are people he knows from pulling at other events in Alberta and Saskatchewan. He said Denzil Community Days is going to be an annual event and he was thrilled with the result.

“Overall, it actually went really well,” Rissling said, recognizing he is excited about the future of the event and he has plans to make improvements for next year. “I’m very pleased. People were happy. People were impressed – even the pullers. They came (and) we treated them nice.”

He said he has attended several tractor pull events, so he has seen what other groups do for entertainment and activities. The spokesperson said he has plans to go even bigger in 2019 and there will be more activities on both days.

The weight transfer sled came from Edgerton, Alta., and it belongs to Jim Sparks, who came to Denzil to operate the sled. The spokesperson said Octane Oilfield Hauling & Rentals out of Provost hauled the sled to and from Edgerton as a donation to the event. Rissling thanked all volunteers, sponsors and donors.

Stephen Dewald was one of the volunteers and he helped as the event announcer. He kept the crowd informed and as one audience member asked how much weight was in the sled, Dewald told the audience member, “all of it.”

There were several classes of tractors and the classes are determined by weight. The classes ranged from tractors under 4,000 pounds to tractors from 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. The only full pull of the weekend belonged to Keith Crocker of Vermllion, Alta., who went the full 250 feet in a Minneapolis-Moline 5 Star.

Crocker and his brother brought four antique Minneapolis-Moline tractors to the event. He said their father had a Minneapolis-Moline and it is how they became attracted to the tractor. The puller, who enjoyed his time and success in Denzil, said he has a passion for pulling.

Shae Miller, 8, of Denzil gives the \ ring toss a try during the kids carnival at the Denzil Community Days event on June 16. His brother Kai, 9, looks on in the background.

“It seems to be a bit of a thrill,” Crocker said, recognizing that he and his brother go to several pulling events over the course of the year, and they enjoy it because they meet lots of people and “it’s just kind of fun doing it.”

Brandon Zimmer, who lives near Major, said he got into tractor pulling with his grandfather and they go to events together. He said he has a couple of tractors, but they are not ready for pulling. His grandfather has 10 tractors, so he helps to prepare and haul them to events.

He said his grandfather pulls with certain tractors, so he gets to drive the tractors his grandfather does not prefer to drive. Zimmer, 30, said he would encourage people to check out the event in 2019. He noted that he and his grandfather have been pulling for eight years, and the fun hobby brings the family closer together.

“Even getting them ready is a lot of fun,” he said of the tractors, adding that they go to a couple of tractor pulls each year and it is a nice weekend getaway for the family members. “It’s just something we look forward to.”

There were 24 teams in the bunnock tournament. Four pools of six teams battled in a round robin and the top three teams from each pool moved on to the finals. The Tyler Klotz team won the first event while the Nicholas Heffner team won the second event and the Rayfe Stewart team won the third event.

Tractor pull winners:

Under 4,000 pounds – 1. Don Clark (182 7/12 feet) 2. Al Schmitt (148 11/12 feet)

4,000-5,000 pounds – 1. Layne Clark (225 1/2 feet) 2. Willy Crocker (166 7/12 feet) 3. Jack Cross (158 2/3 feet)

5,000-6,000 pounds – 1. Terry Box (191 11/12 feet) 2. Keith Crocker (186 5/12 feet) 3. Dustin Grant (121.8 feet)

6,000-7,000 pounds – 1. Keith Crocker (250 feet) 2. Don Clark (214 1/2 feet) 3. Phil Wandler (196 feet)

7,000-8,500 pounds – 1. Steven Gottfried (195 1/3 feet) 2. Willy Crocker (188 1/12 feet) 3. Layne Clark (187 11/12 feet)

8,500-10,000 pounds – 1. Don Clark (166 1/6 feet) 2. Greg Rissling (136 feet) 3. Colin Berglund (135 3/4 feet)

10,000-12,000 pounds – 1. Colin Berglund (174 feet) 2. Don Clark (144 5/12 feet) 3. Jack Cross (117 11/12 feet)

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