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Farm Show winners out-muscle the competition

By Sandra Lepley
Sunday, February 10, 2008

An unbelievable display of strength and power at the horse pulling championship during this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show in January brought home the victory for two families living in the Acme area.

Longtime horseman Tom Brown, and his sons, Scott, Rick, Keith and Charlie, were all at this year's Farm Show to bring home the heavyweight division championship to Westmoreland County.

Even though the Brown Brothers travel around the country with their top-performing horses, it can be unusual to see them all together for an event, especially now since they are each married and have families of their own.

But the horse pulling competition earlier this month at the Farm Show was a rare opportunity to see the sons of Tom and Vera Brown of Acme working together to win for the second straight year with horses Jim and Fred -- a pair of Belgian drafts that out-muscled and outlasted their way past 20 other teams from across the state.

Jim and Fred reached a full pull of more than 12,000 pounds. The Browns also had a team of horses that placed fifth.

Tom Brown started pulling horses in the 1960s after becoming interested in the idea of working with horses and strength training them to pull loads sometimes double and triple their own weight.

His sons soon followed suit and began helping their father in the barn early in life. Horses became a way of life for the whole family. They have won national competitions and traveled throughout the U.S. to various competitions with their horses.

"This is something the whole family has always been involved in," said Tom Brown. "My sons have kept an interest in this sport and it's nice we can come together as a family and still enjoy it."

In the light-weight division, Bobby Howard, also of Acme just over the county line in Fayette County, also had a successful night, winning both first and second places with his teams of horses.

Bobby is the son of Billy and Joyce Howard and the grandson of Bill Howard, who for many years served as the president of the Tri-County Horse and Mule Pullers Association -- a regional organization organized in a post World War II generation to organize draft horse and mule lovers from Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties.

Bobby has been working with horses his entire life, beginning to actually serve as the driver for horse pulling competitions when he was still in grade school.

Pulling a load of almost 11,000 pounds, Bobby's horses Charlie and Barney went the distance with 23 feet and 11 inches. Howard's second team of Marlin and Tom was not far behind, with a finish of 21 feet and 6 inches. Third place went to Sonny Brown of Corry in Crawford County and his team of Mac and Diesel, which pulled the load 18 feet and 10 inches. Seventeen teams competed in the lightweight division.

While the horse pulling competition at the Farm Show always brings out the best horses and some of the biggest crowds, this year's competition was especially tense. In past years, the dynamometer served as the sled for the competition. It is a truck mechanized with weights and usually allows the competitions to go more quickly because it doesn't have to be pulled like a sled back and forth.

However, the sled loaded with weights was brought back to the competition this year and the huge horses leaned into the load with all their might. The competition was not over until after 10:30 p.m.

In addition to Bobby Howard winning the first and second places in lightweight and Sonny Brown in third, the remaining results for lightweight in order were: Mark A. Minton, Cabot, Butler County; Ira Kessler Logging, Columbia Cross Roads, Bradford County; Bill Howard, Acme, Westmoreland County; Jerry B. Shearer, Chambersburg, Franklin County; Perkey Farms, Alverton; William E. Mitchell, Jr., Waterford, Erie County; Guy Burgess, Cochranton, Crawford County; Raymond C. Long, Sidman, Cambria County; Donald Sproat, Dawson; Shane Wright and Corey Wagner, Spring Run, Franklin County.

In addition to the Brown brothers winning first place in the heavyweight and Bill McIntire winning second and third, the remaining results in order in heavyweight were: B and J Farms, Acme, Fayette County; Tom Brown, Acme, Westmoreland County; Victor Bonacassio, Rochester Mills, Indiana County; Sam Hawley, Spartansburg, Erie County; Cole Suter, Somerset; Luke Van Horn, Creekside, Indiana County; George Brindle, Chambersburg, Franklin County; Jeffrey Martin, Punxsutawney, Jefferson County; Huck and Kim Nutwell, Needmore, Fulton County; Casey Harriman, Jonestown, Sullivan County; Scott Enslin and Denise Wright, Spring Run, Franklin County; Chris Coblentz, Rossiter, Indiana County; Jim Suter, Somerset, Somerset County; Harold and Lora MacAfoose, Sugar Grove, Warren County; Scott Enslin, Spring Run, Franklin County; Milton J. Rice, Hickory, Washington County; Denise Wright, Spring Run, Franklin County; William D. Jones, Derry.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show's horse pulling competition is the largest one of its kind in the state. The Farm Show itself is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring 6,500 animals, 15,000 commercial and competitive exhibits, hundreds of shows and events. It draws more than 400,000 visitors. For more information, visit the Web site.

Article courtesy of the Tribune-Review



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