Tractor pull becomes a Fair favorite
A cheering crowd in matching "Team Connie Taylor" tee-shirts packed the bleachers at the Antique Tractor Pull beside the animal barn Saturday morning. Only in its third year, the competition is becoming a cult favorite among antique engine buffs and curiosity seekers. But the exuberant crowd, many from Chilmark Chocolates, was a surprising addition.
The center of attention was a lanky woman in jeans, tee-shirt, and a straw cowboy hat hunched over a pint-sized tractor, urging it forward with all her might. The tractor whined, reared up, and barely moved as minutes ticked away.
"Nine and a half inches," intoned the announcer, setting the crowd to cheering again.
"I had to defend my title," laughed Connie Taylor of Chilmark, who works at Chilmark Chocolates. She said she won handily last year against four opponents. This year she came in third in a class of seven. Her husband, Bob, had enlisted her to ride his 1975 Gravely when he found he could not drive because his weight would have put the tractor and driver total above the 1,000-pound limit. But slender Connie was just the right fit.
Chilmark Chocolates owners Mary Beth Grady and Allison Burger threw their backing behind the endeavor this year, becoming official sponsors, arranging for tee-shirts, and declaring a two-week holiday. Along with encouraging Ms. Taylor, the Chilmark Chocolates gang was there to honor another old friend and colleague, Virginia Hackney, who died last year.
"Every year Virginia would take two weeks off in August," explained Ms. Grady. "We decided to follow her example and come to the Fair and support Connie. It's a nice way to think about Virginia."
Photos by Pat Waring