A roaring good time: Lions already selling for 2012

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tribune photo by James D. Johnson Tractors compete Friday night in the Lions Super Pull of the South Friday night. Almost 20,000 people saw the two-day event.

CHAPEL HILL -- Tractor pull fans are already buying tickets for next year's Lions Super Pull of the South.

"Saturday night, we had people purchasing tickets for next year," Tractor Pull committeeman Tommy Howell said Monday.

One couple asked to buy tickets for next year's event as they bought tickets on the second night of the two-day tractor pull, Howell said.

"Then, they called back and asked if another couple could buy, and they did too," he said. "If they've got money they want to spend, we'll take it."

As a result, the tractor pull committeeman knows that there are at least four tickets already sold for the return engagement of the Super Pull of the South on July 20-21, 2012.

"That's a minimum at least," Howell said. "I'm guessing they probably were (from out of state). They plan their vacation around this, so they wanted to get tickets for next year.

"People from all across the country come to this tractor pull," he said, answering the next question without missing a beat - Was Elvis there? - "He may have been there, but I didn't see him because of all the people there."

With a crowd estimated at 19,000 people, the Lions Super Pull of the South has again attracted the largest single sports audience in the county.

"The pull went fine and the crowds were up," Chris Gilbert, chairman of the Lions Super Pull of the South, said Monday. "And it seems like the economy is turning around a bit.

"We're just now getting numbers back in," Gilbert said Monday.

"There was a good 18,000-20,000 people there for the weekend... Once again, it was the largest sporting event in Marshall County.

"It may be another 2-3 weeks" before final figures can be quoted," he continued. "We may have an estimate by the first of the week. They haven't finished counting for Saturday night.

"But the show was just extremely good and we had the top competitors across the state. I think everybody left happy," Howell said.

"This is a national event," he continued. "Most of the competitors are from the Midwest."

And they help each other with mechanical problems, such as when a head gasket fails.

"They're constantly swapping equipment and helping each other, but once that tractor gets out on the track it's every man for himself."

The Chapel Hill Lions Club has nearly 100 members, but the volunteer corps of area residents dwarfs the membership as others come to help, including wives, children, teachers, principals, police, state troopers, the county's road department, the Emergency Medical Service, and area residents who assist as they can.

Proceeds from the tractor pull are spent to support the Chapel Hill Volunteer Fire department, the Lions White Cane Day, Boy and Girl Scouts and, among other things, the athletic facilities at Forrest School. The club donates close to $20,000 a year for the organization's Sight Campaign.

Success of the tractor pull ensures the Chapel Hill Lions Club will "be able to continue to help folks in our community with the money we made this year," Howell said, noting a bump in revenue from sales of tickets for next year.