SOLDIERS GROVE - After using the Crawford County Fairgrounds in Gays Mills last year, the Fifth Annual Pulling for Preston event is returning to the Village of Soldiers Grove this year on Saturday, July 27.
Guy Nelson, the event organizer, is confident that cooperating weather will allow the event to be held as scheduled in the village park.
“Well, the rains and flooding did not affect the pulling area,” Nelson said Tuesday. “The water in the park is just in the lower part. It appears Mother Nature is going to give us a good week and dry things out.”
Nelson feels the grounds should be dried out enough not only for the truck and tractor pull, but both the newly added volleyball and softball tournaments should be played. One way or another Pulling for Preston is returning to Soldiers Grove this weekend.
Additional parking will be provided behind the old school and the Roth House on property owned by Nelson. From that area, it’s a short walk across the bridge to the park.
The volleyball tournament will get underway at 11 a.m. Anyone interested in participating can find Starr Nelson on Facebook or call Shane Torgerson at 608-632-1581. Those interested in participating in the softball tournament can call Nate McKittrick at 608-632-2179.
Guy Nelson noted that there is a $60 entry fee for the volleyball tournament and $100 entry fee for the softball tournament, but Pulling for Preston will pay for both fess. Making both of the tournaments free for teams playing in them.
Free is actually a big part of this year’s event. There will be no entrance fee to the pulls or any of the associated events-it’s free this year.
Everything is free this year except the delicious barbeque food, which can be purchased with tickets. The all-you-can-eat $20 wristband has been scrapped this year in favor of paying for specific items. There will also not be a barbeque cook-off competition this year.
However, Nelson emphasized the food is reasonably priced ranging from hot dogs and brats for $3 to the beef brisket sandwich for $5. There will also be barbequed chicken legs, barbequed pulled pork sandwiches and rib-eye steak sandwiches. To wash it all down, there will be popular beers for $2 each-there are three beer tents. Everything is paid for with tickets costing one dollar each.
Liberty Bar’s Gabe Williams is doing the beef brisket, while local favorite Rick Hadley is in charge of the pulled pork. Guy’s friends John and Judy from All Q in Barbeque return to the pull and will do the barbeque chicken legs.
Guy is looking for a group interested in grilling the sweet corn, but hasn't found one at this point. If a group wants to take on the task as a fundraiser, they are welcome to call Guy Nelson at 608-632-3178. In fact Pulling for Preston needs lots of volunteers and anyone interested can reach Guy at that number.
Last year, the Ridge Runners ATC-UTV Club earned $2,500 for their effort in parking vehicles and they are returning to do it again this year.
This year’s event is billed as a Pull and Food Fest and there’s even more–like music. Three bands are scheduled to perform on the Country Gardens Stage starting at 1 p.m. with The Whisky River Band. Nelson describes the group as a bunch of old country boys from the Richland Center Ithaca area. Whisky River has appeared at previous Pulling for Preston events.
The Wundos from Platteville take the stage at 4 p.m. with their eclectic mix of country and rock hits. Tad will also have some of his famous Wundo seasoning on hand for those wishing to take some home.
“It’s not just for truck and tractor pull fans,” Guy Nelson said. “It’s a food and music festival as well.”
The last band, Blue Collar 40, from the Westby area will start at 8 p.m. The popular country band has expanded its repertoire a bit, according to Nelson.
The music on the Country Garden Stage will also benefit from the professional sound and lighting hired for the event.
However, at its core Puling for Preston is the truck and tractor pull dedicated to the memory of Preston Nelson Guy and Tammy’s son, who was killed in a traffic accident on Highway 14 in April of 2015. Preston, an ardent diesel truck puller, is commemorated by the event that features the largest diesel truck pull in the area.
In all, there will be 14 or more classes in the pull ranging from antique tractors kicking off the pull at noon to 4.1 Limited Pro diesel tractors, worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars, and ending with two categories of super stock gas tractors.
Sandwiched in the middle of it all are the diesel trucks. There are three classes Hot Street, Pro Street and Open. Starr Nelson, Preston’s sister, will have her truck entered in the Pro Street Diesel Truck Class and if she’s not driving it, Guy will be.
Guy Nelson emphasized that people interested in seeing the pulls should plan on arriving early.
“We plan to be done with the last pull by 8 p.m.,” Guy said. “I don’t want people coming late and missing the pulls.”
He pointed out that a lot of semi trucks are expected for this pull. The 4.1 Limited Pro diesel tractors are high-end pullers worth lots of money and are seldom seen in this area and even more rarely are they seen for free.A goal of contributing profits to community groups remains, but has decreased in recent years because of increased costs. Guy hopes a large crowd and lower costs will allow Pulling for Preston to do more community giving this year.