CHAPEL HILL - More people and more money came to town for the Lions Club Super Pull of the South this year, compared to last year, according to the club's event chairman.
"I'd say we were a little over 20,000 for the weekend," Chapel Hill Lions Club tractor pull committee chairman Chris Gilbert said Monday, having projected a crowd of 18,000 to 20,000.
And, Saturday night's pull proved to be a record-setter for an Ohio woman who drove her five-engine tractor to victory for the first time. Meanwhile, Friday suffered a 90-minute rain delay.
But still, "It was good, good, good, good. It was very good. There was a full house Saturday night," Gilbert said.
"Friday night was good, but of course Saturday night is always a full house," Gilbert said Monday, still beaming with the pride of Lions for a successful event. "I'd say we're up maybe 10 percent over last year."
The 2008 tractor pull "was down probably 10-15 percent because of the economy but we made that back this year," Gilbert said.
Asked if the tractor pull could be used as an annual economic indicator, Gilbert replied, "I wouldn't go that far, but it was a great show for a $20-$25 ticket. I think people are still cutting back on NASCAR racers or trips to Florida.
"I think it was an indicator that they bought the ticket and bought food and drink, but the amount they bought was down. They bought food items, but they bought less expensive items. Instead of a hamburger, maybe they bought a hotdog," Gilbert said. "So, they were here, but it looks like they didn't have the money to spend."
Still there were the loud roars of tractors and crowds of friends who followed their favorite tractors and drivers.
"We had a young lady driving one of the big modified tractors," the tractor pull chairman said. "Kathy Archer of Lowell, Ohio, won her class on Saturday night, her first ever win in the unlimited modified class.
"There are not a lot of women driving, but we did have another woman driving in the four-wheeler truck class" over the weekend, Gilbert said.
Archer's "tractor was a five-engine tractor called the Black Widow. All the motors together were producing about 12,000 horsepower," Gilbert said. "It was a brand new tractor this year and it was probably her third or fourth run on it and it was her first win on it."
For those unaware of the nature of competitive tractor pulling, Gilbert explained that the object of the event is to pull the weighted sled further down the track further than the opponent.
"Friday night, we had about a 90-minute rain delay," the tractor pull chairman continued.
Early forecasts indicated a greater chance of rain Saturday.
"It was just an isolated cell and it hovered over us," Gilbert said. "We had about an inch of rain in a little over a half an hour."
It didn't faze the Lions, who were prepared with a tarpaulin measuring 50 feet wide and 450 feet long.
"We just covered the track," Gilbert said. "Some left. Some could have just gone to their cars, but most of them came back.
"We had a great crowd, great weather, other than early Friday night," he said.
"Otherwise a great weekend for everybody concerned." Gilbert said, adding he and the Chapel Hill Lions Club thanks "everybody who pitched in to make this event a success."
Next year's tractor pull is on July 23-24.