GREENVILLE — Friends of the Darke County Tractor Pullers Association (DCTPA) gathered Saturday night for the pullers’ annual banquet at Romer’s Catering in Greenville.
Emcee Duane “Lum” Edwards welcomed 230 people to the event.
DCTPA President and Vice President Joe Singer and Kyle Schlechty, respectively, presented some of the highlights of 2016. Greg Randall from the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) also spoke, congratulating the tractor pullers on their achievements.
Top awards given out during the evening was Tim Hart, named to the Hall of Fame, and Gary Davis, Member of the Year.
“The first pull was on Sept. 27, 1981, and the first Darke County Fair pull was Aug. 28, 1982,” said Joe Singer, president of the DCTPA. “We are beginning our third generation of pullers.”
Vice President Kyle Schlechty added that Hart was instrumental in starting the DCTPA and was a puller many years himself.
“It is good to be associated with a family like this,” said Hart in his acceptance speech.
He then proceeded to tell the crowd how the tractor pullers association got its start 35 years ago. He was a part of that group. In fact, he was its first president.
According to Hart, he and his brother, Jim, started a shop where they worked on pulling tractors in 1977 on Old County H0me Road.
“Not long later, the late Dave Blocher brought up the idea of tractor pulling. Dave, Jim and I went to the Darke C0unty Fair Board meeting and they tabled the decision. A couple of months later, we tried again, and, afterwards, Charlie Sackett [fair board member at the time] came to our shop and they finally gave us the right to do it. That invitational pull on Sept. 27 is said to have been a good pull. We probably had 30 good tractors there but the crowd was nothing.”
Hart concluded, “I’m moved and humbled, but it’s not about me, but about you, who have grown children. It’s about being family; that’s what it’s all about. I live and breathe tractor pulling.”
Also recognized during this time were some of the members from that first club. Getting their photos taken were Joe Singer, Estel Shaw, Hart, Edwards, the late Dave Blocher represented by daughter and granddaughter, Angela Hart and Krisney Gwin, respectively, and Tony Schlechty.
When giving Davis his Member of the Year award, Edwards remarked, “When we ask him to do something, he does it.”
The following are the winners in the 2016 overall standings recognized were:
• 4,000 pound class Division II Antiques— Ralph Reece first.
• 5,500-pound class Division II Antiques — Lloyd Lee first and Ralph Reece second.
• 6,500-pound Division II Antiques —Lloyd Lee.
• 7,500-pound Division II Antiques — Jason Lee.
• 9,000-pound ALT Farm — Mark Gettinger first and Jake Dengler second. Additional winners were Ross Shepard, Cory Smith, Rob Hester, Jack Bingham and Chris Rosenberger.
• 5,800 V8 Hot Rod — Jake Unger first, Dwight Harris second, with Wayne Garrett, Ralph Reece and Jim Tietge Bad News mentioned.
• 6,200-pound ALT Gas Truck — Glen McCreery’s daughter Taylor first and Ted Walker second. Others mentioned were Kerry Unger Silver, Kerry Unger Green, Miles Rosenberger, Doug Fritz and John Baker.
• Work Stock Diesel Truck — Chase Lavy first and John Kenworthy second, with Jacob Phelps in third place.
• 2.5 Diesel Truck —Chris Mann first and Mitchell Wesler second, with the following placing third through eighth: Michael Lipps, Justin Gilliland, Jonathan Proeschel, Garrett Warner, Derek Martin and Nick Stamm.
• 9,500 Hot Farm: Johnny Fleck first and Tyler Fleck second, with the other winners being Brett Hartman, Dave Marlatt, Darren Bommer, Derek Vonderhaar, Tylan Reynolds and Clyde Ohnewehr.
The DCTPA also presented around $2,000 to about eight or nine charities and parks, including the Village of Palestine, National Kiddie Tractor Pullers, Lynn Lions Club, Loyal Order of Moose, Redkey Volunteer Fire Department, Greenville Township Fire and Rescue, Morgan Aultman representing Farm Safety Just 4 Kids program, Cancer Association of Darke County and Bunco For Boobies.
Also recognized during the banquet were the sponsors for the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA. They were:
• $5,000 sponsors — DeKalb and Asgrow Seed, Pioneer Hybrid Seed, Anderson’s Marathon Ethanol and Crop Production Services.
• $3,000 sponsor — Apple Farm Services.
• $1,000 sponsors — Merchants Bank of Indiana, Ohio Crankshaft, Cen Peco and Wilbur Ellis.
The following DCTPA sponsors were also recognized:
• $1,000 class sponsors — Brodbeck Seeds, Dave Kehl Chevrolet, Nyes Automotive, Reid Specialty Physicians of Greenville; J&J Performance, Unger Fabrication, Rowland Truck and Equipment, Fullenkamp’s Frenchtown Trailer, Precision Agri Services, Koenig Equipment and Cardinal Ethanol LLC
• $500 sponsors —3-Way Electric, Miami Industrial Trucks, Kenfeld Group, Merchants Bank of Indiana, The Bootery, Ansonia Lumber Co. Mr. Snow Plow and Truck Equipment, My Way RTK, Hy Tech Automotive and Stine Seed.
Additional highlights of the event were the Pledge of Allegiance, led by both Darke County American Legion Commander Jim Kammer, assisted by Past Commander Harold “Skip” Hoover; DCTPA Treasurer leading the prayer before the banquet; a 50/50 raffle; and the giveaway of door prizes.
Kammer spoke after the awards were handed out.
“On behalf of the veterans of Darke County, I want to thank the Darke County Tractor Pullers for helping us out during our program at the fairgrounds,” he said, referring to the annual Wednesday night service honoring veterans in front of the Grandstand during fair week. “It was a turnaround for us when the tractor pullers came around. Thank you all.”
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.