Guy and Tammy Nelson, with sponsors Country Gardens and Southwest Wisconsin Pullers, will host ‘Pulling for Preston,’ a free memorial truck and tractor pull, backyard barbeque cook-off and music fest on August 1 at the park and horse corral in Soldiers Grove.
The Nelsons lost their son Preston in a fatal traffic accident on April 12, days short of his twentieth birthday. An avid truck puller, creating an event in Preston’s hometown seemed a natural direction for honoring his memory. An idea, which began in conversations with the large pulling community where the young man was well known, has grown into an idea soon to be realized.
The couple, with help from the fire department and friends and family, is organizing a family-friendly event that they hope will offer something for everyone.
The pulling kicks off with an antique tractor pull at 11 a.m. Bouncy houses will be on hand for the kids. Not long after the antique and farm tractors begin pulling, barbeque cook-off contestants will begin firing up their grills to show off their culinary skills. The Blue Eagle Band will start delivering their brand of blues and R&B at 2 p.m. Cook-off judging starts around 5 p.m. Large truck and tractor pulling, including a dump truck pull, begins at 6 p.m. Come 9 p.m., High Mileage hits the stage with a broad selection of rock and roll dance classics, mostly from the 80s.
The Nelsons are supplying the chicken, ribs, and pork shoulder to be used in the cook-off. But unlike the professional cook-offs the couple has witnessed, the spectators will have a chance to sample the results.
“If you can cook in your back yard, you can cook in this,” Guy explained.
Wristbands will be available for purchase. For $20 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under, between noon and 5 p.m. you can sample the various grilling selections as well as eat from the food stands that will offer brats, pulled pork, hamburgers, and sweet corn. The wristband also enters you in a cash drawing for $500.
There will be five categories of competition. Besides the chicken, ribs, and pork shoulder supplied by the Nelsons, cooks can bring their own items for the ‘Pit Masters Choice’, and wristband wearers will help select the ‘Public’s Choice on Creative Set-up” award.
Pulling will be held in the corral and tents will be set up for the barbequing and music, so it’s a rain or shine affair, Guy noted.
The couple hopes to see at least 10 barbeque teams sign-up.
“Even if someone isn’t interested in pulling, we want there to be something for them to enjoy,” Guy noted.
“This started from requests from friends and our tractor pulling community,” explained Guy. “People wanted to honor his memory, and to restore his truck. A portion of the proceeds will be used to finish that project. Preston used the truck (in the accident) for street use and pulling. But, we want to create something that benefits his hometown, as well and helps support our local civic groups.”
The family also wants to direct funds towards a scholarship fund for future North Crawford graduates who want to pursue a technical college or mechanics program degree.
The truck and tractor pulling community is a widespread community, the Nelsons explained. Preston had participated in pulls throughout the region and made friends from all over the state and country through the activity he had been involved with since the age of eight, when he would attend pulls with his father. He began pulling with farm tractors and ATVs at age 13 and progressed to trucks at 16. Working in the family businesses, the young man had been getting ready to begin working on other people’s vehicles in a shop and auto dealership he and his father planned to open in the former Soldiers Grove milk plant.
Tammy stressed the importance of supporting local emergency services and the volunteers who respond.
“People don’t always realize until you have had to use the fire department or EMS, how much we rely on them, what they do for us,” Tammy said with tears in her eyes. “They were the ones who came first; and you want to help them, to make sure they have what they need to be as efficient as possible.”
The Nelsons hope to make the event an annually recurring pull that helps civic service groups, such as the fire department and emergency medical crews.
Guy expressed thanks for the help and support they had already received as they work on the event, naming the local fire department leadership and Gabe Williams, owner of the bounce houses, in particular.
For those interested in signing up for the barbeque cook-off, volunteering, or non-profits that would like to participate in the event, contact Guy at 608-632-3178.
Interested parties are also encouraged to attend the next planning meeting on Wednesday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Soldiers Grove Lions Park Shelter. Additional planning meetings are planned at the same time and place for July 22 and 29.