Haverhill’s Tractor Pull is Northeast Championship
The Heartbeat of Haverhill is impressed by all the quirks and anomalies that make up our vast city. People hear the word ‘city’ and what comes to mind are tight places with tall buildings pressing together in a vibrant downtown. And while we have that, we offer so much more. In Haverhill, our rural and agricultural roots are not just a part of our history, they are part of our life every day. (click on photos to enlarge)
Crescent Farm Goats
Crescent Farm Cows
Crescent Farm Alpaca
Crescent Farm Dog
Crescent Farm Corn Maze
Crescent Farm is one of the largest farms in Essex County. There are 350 acres in Bradford, and another 650 scattered about the county that are leased by Crescent Farm.Passersby recognize the place at 140 Willow St for its silo and Richardson’s Ice Cream sales. BTW did you know that Crescent Farm feeds the cows at Richardson’s? Or they might know Crescent Farm its petting animals including cows and alpacas and very funny and friendly goats. Seasonal hay rides and pumpkin patches and cider donuts, too. The Farm also regularly hosts the Merrimack Valley Radio Operated Plane Club.
The Eliminator is the weight sled/truck that automatically adjusts for various weights
But once a year, in its most understated manner, Crescent Farm becomes something of a legend when it hosts the Northeast Tractor Pulling Championship that is the last pulling event of the year in our region. Contestants travel from New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, all of New England, anywhere people have tractors that they think are the best. You may witness tractor pulling at the Topsfield Fair, but that’s in an arena. At Crescent – it’s in the field, it’s free, under hyped, with minimal vendors, and there is unprecedented access to the tractors and their drivers.
The Heartbeat of Haverhill lost track of time as we photographed the contestants, the colors, the tractors, the farm animals, the people. It is a photographers dream with a combination of light, textures, colors, and drama. In fact the Merrimack Valley Camera Club was in attendance taking advantage of all the event offered them. Visitors can stop in for a half hour or stay for the day.
Here a weight is added to the front of the tractor
Here are some back weights
Before competing all tractors head to the portable weigh station
The red eliminator shifts its load to increase weight and resistance
Never been to a tractor pull, here’s what THOH learned. The goal is very simple – use your tractor to pull the heaviest weight the longest distance. This is broken up into categories by weight and type of tractor. now you know all you need to know to enjoy the competition. All tractors drive onto a scale that qualifies them for categories.The same tractor can enter different categories by attaching weights to the tractor. Years ago the competition was a much slower process as cement blocks were individually added to a sled to increase weights between rounds. Now a truck/sled shifts it weight balance automatically to increase the weights.
This old beauty is from Maine
this antique was for sale. note steel wheels and the hint of similar design to a steam engine
Rust makes this pipe extra rich
Dad on tractor, son waiting for his turn to compete.
What THOH thought was fascinating:
- All these worn 1930, 40, 50’s tractors that one might think are just hanging out as adorable lawn ornaments, are here, still doing their jobs. Tractors decades older than THOH are working harder than ever. They are really beautiful with their splattered mud, rusty patinas and unique features, some are so weathered the manufacturer’s name has worn off.
- This is not simply a group of old dude farmers clinging to their past. The competition included 90+/- tractors from all over the northeast corridor, and the drivers ranges as young as 11 and as old as late 70s maybe 80s.
- It takes a lot of strategy and finesse to get the best ride out of the tractor. Some entrants kind of bounced their front wheels to motivated the tractor to pull a heavy back weight. Others hit the gas hard to get as much momentum as possible right out of the gate.
- People who compete with tractors are not always farmers. Sure, Rogers Spring Hill Farm from Haverhill’s Ward Hill was in attendance but so were lawn care and landscapers, people with big yards, and anybody who loves the thrill of taking a machine to its peak performance.
- The biggest suped up turbo machines can be valued to $100,000 and more. Their drivers tended to be in their 60s or so based on unscientific observation.
- Women are fierce and frequent competitors in the field. One woman, Charlene Constable, of W. Lowell Street in Haverhill was competing after recently taken home a third place at Topsfield Fair. THOH didn’t see all of her pulls, but when one didn’t go as well as expected, she was very good humored about the experience.
- Visitors can stay in one place or traipse through the fields and hills to the weighing area, and among the trailers and tractor lots. THOH did a lot of walking.
- People are nice and are willing to explain things, and just chat a bit, unless their kid’s is pulling and then out comes the steely eyed focus and cameras. Some parents advised ear plugs or headphones to muffle the noise for their young children, especially when the turbo tractors are competing. Those things create some big noise.
- There is a small snack table with reasonable priced items right in the competition area, or you can head up to the ice cream shop and purchase treats tand pumpkins there. Maybe engage with some friendly farm animals along the way. Some people tailgate.
- There is a lot of pride in the competition – pride of tractor make, skills, and the agricultural field that makes all our lives possible, and well fed. Competitors are in it for the love of competition, the shiny trophies, and bragging rights. It’s not a high cash stakes competition.
You may never want to be a farmer, you may never tend to a plant bigger than a potted geranium, you may never want to drive a tractor (although THOH can’t imagine why), but you should always know that Haverhill has you covered, no matter what your interests are – but especially if you’re interested in tractors on farmland.