Tugging teamwork takes the day

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Abby Lindauer, 17, of St. Henry, tugs with her team during Thursday's tug of war competition at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville.


BRETZVILLE — Zach Troxal dug into the crumbled dirt beneath him, carving out a hole deep enough for him to straighten his legs. As officials signaled for tugging to start, he knew he wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.

“Pull!” yelled coaches from his team, Horse Power, and the opponents, GOATs, in the championship round of the annual tug of war competition at the Dubois County 4-H Fair.

The rules were simple 3 minutes to dig, 5 minutes rest and 3 minutes to pull.

See more photos from Thursday at the fair

A momentous heave from a in-sync Horse Power team showed they yearned for victory after falling out in the first round of last year’s competition.

“30 seconds!” the judge said.

They didn’t need it. The slack on the rope wasn’t going to detach from their hairspray-soaked hands.

See more photos from the tug of war

“It was painful but it felt good,” said Troxal, 16, of Jasper. “I was trying to give it my all trying to pull the last little bit in and we finally did and got the win.”

The crowd that had waited more than three hours on the west side of the grandstand arena in blistering heat to see the Horse Power team cheered to life as time dwindled down.

The GOATs were no match for the vengeful Horse Power, who outlasted six other teams to claim their prize of Papa John’s pizza and soft drinks.

Coach Jimmy Wagner of Holland yells "pull" as Trevor Hunefeld, 17, of Holland, left, and Mike Lindauer of St. Henry tug the rope in unison during Thursday's tug of war competition at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville.

“It’s nice to see all the fighting spirit that the teams have,” said Ayden Rees, a member of Horse Power 2.

The strategies for each team were similar: the coach gives them the sign to pull and then they lay on the rope immediately after to maintain slack from the rope.

“You’ve got to really dig yourself a nice hole and make sure you have your knees set,” he said. “You get up on your knees, you are going to fly forward and lose all that slack your team gained.”

4-H teams from all over the county participated in the tug of war, as well as 4-H alumni and contestants from the Miss Dubois County competition.

“It’s something our club always looks forward to,” said 4-H alumnus Damien Schwoeppe of the St. Henry Saints. “We’ve won seven out of the past 10 years.”

Trailers plowed the dirt over twice between rounds, giving teams time to strategize and set a course of action.

“You work as a team and do everything as a team,” said 17-year-old Cody Scherle of Ireland.

Cody, a team member of American Beef participated in the tug of war for his third straight year. An eight-year veteran of 4-H, he said his favorite part of the fair is seeing people from all over the county that he normally doesn’t get to see.

He said he was disappointed in this year’s outcome but plans to be back with his team next year to take on the champions.

While Horse Power took home this year’s eight-piece prize, many challengers plan to return for a slice of victory.

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