Pushing the pedals at the fair

It was an edge-of-the-seat competition as children of various ages tested their leg strength in the Kids Tractor Pedal Pull, an annual event at the North Dakota State Fair.

The pedal pull contest took place Tuesday and was open to all children ages 4 to 12.

Cheers of encouragement went up from the spectators as kids each took their turns at pedaling a weighted tractor the farthest distance. Erin Beck, assistant marketing director for the North Dakota State Fair, served as the event’s emcee and provided inspirational words and positive commentary for each contestant.

Milan Drewlow, organizer of the event and owner of the mini-tractors, said the pedal pull starts with the 4-year-olds and each participant pulls a mini-tractor that’s weighted down. Each kid pedals the same tractor and it gets heavier as the kid pulls, he continued. Medals were given out to the first, second and third place winners for each age, but all of the participants also received a Frisbee.

Usually, the pedal pull draws 80 to 120 kids, although it varies by year, Drewlow said. “It also varies by weather,” he added. “If it’s hot, then the little ones don’t come out.” The pedal pull lasts about an hour and a half if there are 100 kids participating in it, Drewlow also said. There are state and national levels of tractor pedal pulling, too, he added. The national competition is held in Mitchell, S.D., every year.

All of the tractors are modified, Drewlow noted. Sometimes, though, he said he will weight the tractor a little heavier so that there aren’t a lot of tie-breakers in the pedal pull.

Drewlow, who is from Breckenridge, Minn., has been coming to Minot for the State Fair for the last 10 years. He’s been involved in tractor pedal pulls for 25 years, first reading about them in a farm magazine. Drewlow has been modifying and making improvements on the tractors ever since.

“I get talked into doing an adult pedal pull once in awhile,” Drewlow said. “But usually I’m tired after running the kids’ pull.”

The Kids Tractor Pedal Pull on Tuesday afternoon drew a sizeable crowd of seasoned fans as well as curious onlookers. “As long as I’ve been doing this, there are people who have never seen one of these,” Drewlow said in amazement. However, after that day’s pedal pull, more fairgoers would have experienced the popular farming event.