Garden tractor pulls attracts avid competitors

Story and photo by Carolyn Kaberline

Eric Ladesic of Tonganoxie never realized that garden tractor pulls were “such a big thing,” when he went to his first pull about four years ago, but now his two children Brynna and Brock are avid competitors.

Bryanna Ladesic

Bryanna Ladesic, 9, competes in the 600 lb. class at the garden tractor pull sponsored by Perry Pride on July 16. Brynna won her class with a distance of 42.82 feet. She is the daughter of Eric and Amy Ladesic of Tonganoxie.

“I got one [a garden tractor] at an auction for $25.00,” Ladesic said. “I took it to a contest in McLouth and found they were more serious than I thought.”

In fact, the competition was such that it wasn’t long before the family began looking for another tractor.

“The one Brock pulls now was found in a hedge row,” Ladesic explains, adding that it’s a Sears Excel 10 from the late 1960s. “It had been sitting there for at least five years. The design is one that Brock came up with. We then wanted a second tractor of the same kind for the pulls, since Brock’s was pulling well.”

The second tractor soon became Brynna’s. While it sports the same design, it’s painted a hot pink.

Ladesic admits that while Brynna likes doing the pulls, she may loan her tractor to others to ride. However, Brock is “real competitive.” Both did well at the recent meets: Brynna won the 600 lb. class at Meriden on Friday and Perry on Saturday, while Brock placed second in both meets in the 700 lb. class.

Sponsored by the Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Association and Perry Pride respectively, these pulls saw good attendance despite the high temperatures with participants coming from as far away as Sabetha, Holton and several towns in Missouri. For many who came, like the Baldwin family of Kidder,Mo., garden tractor pulls are a “family thing.”

“My husband, Larry, went to a tractor pull once and fell in love with it,” Sheila Baldwin said. “Now his brother Ron, Ron’s wife, Linda, his dad and mom and Ron’s daughter Missi and our daughter Katie are all involved.”

The Baldwins are the Bucket Brigade and own the sled used in both the Meriden and Perry events. They are one of three groups in the area that own sleds and help put on the pulls.

Sheila said that while the rules vary some from pull to pull, the major divisions are usually 600 lb., 700 lb., 850 lb., 950 lb. slow, 950 lb. fast, and 1050 lb. Many of the garden tractors used for the event are decades old, sporting such brand names as Kaboda, Wheel Horse, Ford, International, Allis Chalmers, Sears, and Montgomery Ward.

Although competition is taken seriously, Sheila Baldwin noted that one of the main goals was to have fun, something that everyone at each meet seemed to be having despite the heat.

The Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Association will sponsor garden tractor pulls during their Fall Festival Sept. 24 and 25.

Results for the meets are as follows:

Meriden Garden Tractor Pull, July 15:

600 lb. class—1. Brynna Ladesic, Tonganoxie, 2. Mattie Royer, Hiawatha, 3. Jacob Ragle, Kidder, Mo.

700 lb. class—1. Ethan Wilke, Hiawatha, 2. Brock Ladesic, Tonganoxie, 3. Nancy Andrew, Gallatin, Mo.

850 lb. class—1.Betty Niehves, Sabetha, 2. Keith Moody, Topeka, 3. Bernie Hurla, Leavenworth.

950 lb. slow—1. Keith Moody 2. Jeff Neihaus, Sabetha, 3. Randy Frazier, Weatherby, Mo.

950 lb. fast—1. Bill Baldwin, Winston, Mo., 2. Ron Baldwin, Greenwood, Mo., 3. Mike Millenbrook, Hiawatha.

1050 lb. class—Mike Millenbrook 2. Bernie Hurla 3. Ernie Herrera, Hiawatha.

Perry Garden Tractor Pull, July 16

600 lb. class—1. Bryanna Ladesic 2. Nick Hurd, Perry, 3. Katelynn Hurd, Perry.

700 lb. class—1. Tim Andrew, Gallatin, Mo., 2. Brock Ladesic, 3. Katelynn Hurd.

850 lb. class—1.Tim Andrew, 2. Sheila Baldwin, Kidder, Mo., 3. Jake Bonham, Perry.

950 lb. slow—1. Matt Reynolds, Bolckow, Mo., 2. Roger Reynolds, Bolckow, Mo., 3. Tim Andrew

950 lb. fast—1. Bill Baldwin, 2. Roger Reynolds, 3. Randy Frazier, Weatherby, Mo.

1050 lb. class—1. Paul Pinson, Balco, Mo., 2. Larry Baldwin, Kidder, Mo., 3. Randy Frazier.

Meriden Garden Tractor Pull, July 17

600 lb. class—1. Jacob Ragle.

700 lb. class—1. Charles Call, Holton, 2. Austin Higgins, Perry, 3. Jacob Ragle.

850 lb. class—Keith Moody 2. Wade Hinman, Denison, 3. Charles Call.

950 lb. slow—Wade Hinman, 2. Keith Moody, 3. Charles Call.

950 lb. fast—1.Gary Sughart, Lancaster, 2. Elijah Meyer, Effingham, 3. Keith Moody.

1050 lb. class—1. Gary Sughart, 2. Larry Baldwin, 3. Charles Call.

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