Saturday, December 8th, 2012
Fort Recovery club wins top honor for tractor pulls
By William Kincaid
FORT RECOVERY - A contingent of Fort Recovery Ambassadors Club members travel to Columbus every year to present the rookie-of-the-year award at the National Tractor Pullers Association's annual banquet.
The members attending this year's banquet last weekend had no idea they be taking home one of the biggest honors of the evening - the Grand National Pull of the Year award.
"It caught us by total surprise," member Nick Dues said. "To get the Grand National Pull of the Year is a very prestigious award to any promoter because it's so hard. You're competing against every Grand National event in the country."
Dues, who accepted the plaque on behalf of the Ambassadors, said his hands were trembling as he walked up to the podium for an impromptu speech.
For four decades, the Ambassadors have organized and operated truck and tractor pulls at their park in Fort Recovery.
"Our philosophy out there is it's (a place) where friends and families meet and memories are made," Dues said, pointing out he began working the lunch stand as a teenager.
Fort Recovery Mayor Roger Broerman agreed the tractor pulls bring the community together each summer.
"The community really backs them," he said.
Dues said the winner of the Grand National Pull of the Year is selected by members of the NTPA, which includes pullers, officials, crew members and associates.
Joshua Steinmetz, a communications specialist with the NTPA, said the Ambassador's summer pulls has been a long-standing event on the national circuit. He praised the group for making improvements to the park and the community for making participants feel welcome.
"We made a lot of changes to the grounds," Dues said. "We've added a new building. We're in the process of adding another facility down there, and we added a memorial walkway. Since 2002, there's been a lot of changes to the grounds, and we're continuing to strive to even make it better."
Broerman said the Ambassadors have one of the best tracks around.
"They make a lot of improvements and bring a lot of business to the town," he said.
Dues, named the Fort Recovery Citizen of the Year in 2010 in part for his contribution to the tractor pulls, emphasized the tractor pulls wouldn't be what they are without the overwhelming support of the town.
"It's a hard award, and it's an award that we all take a lot of pride in because it couldn't have happened without the community support, all the volunteers and all our event sponsors," he said.
Each summer as many as 90 drivers compete at the two-day tractor pulls. Around 200 volunteers help by parking cars, working the lunch stand, making phone calls and coordinating activities.
"We put a lot of pride into the work we do out there as a club. It's not a one-person show. It's a whole group of volunteers that help out," Dues said.
Ambassadors Carl Pleiman, Shane Gaerke and Craig Wendel also attended this year's banquet.