BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The roar of the engines will be silenced at the Wood County Fairgrounds this summer, as the National Tractor Pulling Championships will not hold its annual Super National event this year.
This would have been the 54th consecutive Super National Event at the fairgrounds. Board members said the underlying coronavirus threat to "our youth groups and senior volunteers, our community, and of course the love we have for our pullers, fans and sponsors, was a risk too great to take."
Northwestern Ohio Tractor Pullers Association president Mike Erford stressed the difficulty of policing so many people for proper social distancing.
"50-to-75,000 people in one spot from 16 different countries," Erford said. "You're bound to have issues."
The city of Bowling Green is set to lose out on all visitors it brings. BG Beverage Center down the road from the fairgrounds makes a huge profit every year. But this year, they've been watching how much they order to manage business.
"The fair, the tractor pull, or Black Swamp [Arts Festival], we just order accordingly the week leading up to and the week of," manager Joe Pellerite said. "Obviously this year is going to be a little different."
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on many travel plans this year. But the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau is still working to attract people. Social media coordinator Carmen Cano said many people are choosing to travel locally or around the state this summer.
"'I didn't know this existed' or 'I didn't know they offered this opportunity'," Cano said, regarding reaction she hears from the community. "And that's personally what I like seeing a lot of online and so we are getting a lot of community members that are sharing their experience with these businesses online."
Erford said this is the first and hopefully last time in its 50-plus year history they'll have to cancel the event. But they're already planning for next year.
"I'm not at liberty to say all of that, but we're going to make it something special since we canceled on everyone this year," he said.
All tickets and campsites already purchased will roll over to next year's tractor pull, the organizers said. Anyone who wishes to purchase tickets for next year may do so starting Jan. 4, 2021.
"As the Board of Directors for the NTPC, we ask that you respect this decision. We know you are disappointed, as we are...This is nobody's fault," Erford said.
The event usually raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and draws participants and spectators from all over the world. The National Tractor Pulling Championship is the world’s largest truck and tractor pull, organizers note.