With the Scott County Fair being canceled due to COVID-19, many around the region have been pining for a chance to witness a good, old-fashioned tractor pull. Enter Jesse Wilson.
Wilson, who serves on the Scott County Fair Board and has been helping organize tractor pulls for the better part of 15 years, heard from his circle of pullers that they were eager to get onto the track, so he and a team of planners and other volunteers set out to host a pull as good as possible given the coronavirus circumstances. The result was the 2020 Lockdown Shakedown, which took place last Saturday, June 20.
The event welcomed pullers of all levels from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin to the Scott County Fairgrounds, all of whom were itching to compete.
"They wanted to see it as much as we wanted to have it," Wilson said.
Working alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wilson and the team of planners organized an event that got visitors outside while also staying safe.
Up until last Friday, June 19, at noon, the event's organizers believed they would only be allowed to welcome 250 guests to the grandstand arena at the fairgrounds. But a late green-light for about 750 people allowed planners to open invitations to a larger crowd, Wilson said, and on Saturday, around 700 people spread throughout the arena to watch the pull.
"I was very happy how it all went," Wilson said.
In addition to physical distancing in the stands, Wilson and a team of volunteers also set up hand washing stations, COVID-19 informational posters and sanitizer buckets throughout the arena. Wilson had visited other parks and raceways in the tri-state area to get a sense for how to safely run an event, so he felt confident that a tractor pull could be done.
Wilson said it was his goal to break even financially and have a little fun.
In addition to all the fun, the Lockdown Shakedown also led to some good deeds as a portion of the revenues went back into community efforts.
Specifically, $1000 will be donated to the Belle Plaine Fire Department, the Jordan Fire Department and the Duck Cup Memorial Fund, a nonprofit out of New Prague aimed at suicide prevention. An additional $500 is slated for another to-be-determined organization for a total of $3500.
Now, Wilson said, he is eager to plan another pull in the near future. The timing of another event will largely depend on the schedules of the pullers who are likely to get involved, as well as potential health and safety guidelines from the state.