GOSHEN TOWNSHIP- The Goshen Center Ruritans are gearing up for a big season of tractor and truck pulls.
The club has installed a new set of bleachers at the Goshen Ruritan Park arena just in time for the first series of pulls in the "Bunker Hill Shootout" this weekend. Designed to enhance spectator experience, the project includes renovation of the old five-row bleacher seating to a large 12-row set that will seat between 900 and 1,000. It is being paid for with a portion of funds the club has raised the past several years through past pulls and its annual rose sale.
With an average of over 1,200 spectators each night, the renovation was needed to accommodate the growing crowds at the popular event, according to Ruritan John Biery.
Volunteers John Yarrison, left, and Tom Griffith help Ruritan Kevin Martig (obscured) install new 12-row bleachers at the Goshen Center Ruritan Park in preparation of this season’s “Bunker Hill Shootout” tractor pulls. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
"The idea is go bigger to draw more tractors and trucks," he said. "The more tractors and trucks draw more people."
The annual pulls are the club's largest fundraiser, generating $10,000 to $12,000 each year in admission fees and concession sales. All proceeds from the events are put back into the 29-acre park, featuring baseball and soccer fields and basketball and tennis courts in addition to the track. The club also donates the proceeds to the local community, including projects at the Damascus Fire Department, $3,000 each year in scholarships in the West Branch Local School District and $1,200 annually to local 4-H clubs. Proceeds are also used to fund home improvement projects club members complete for community members in need.
The club has hosted the pulls since its inception in May 1961, originally holding them at the former H&E Airport (Salem Air Park) until moving them to the park in 1964. Recent renovations at the track include the 2008 installation of new lighting as well as concrete barriers on the sides for safety.
The club meets at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Bunker Hill United Methodist Church, 15096 W. Middletown Road. Interested individuals in high school or older may contact Biery at 330-584-2155 for membership information.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org