Floyd tractor run grows community, funds for chairty
A tractor is a fairly common sight when it comes to farming in the New River Valley, but for the past six years, Dale Thompson and Larry Bishop have been using theirs to grow more than crops.
On Aug. 18, the pair will lead an estimated 100 tractors along the 35-mile route of the sixth-annual Floyd County Tractor Fun Run this year in hopes of growing funds to benefit local leukemia patient Dillon Wood, as well as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
It is an event that has grown into a summertime staple for tractor lovers in the New River Valley and one that started with a simple conversation.
Thompson said he and Bishop struck up that conversation as the two were returning home from a tractor run in Pulaski in the summer of 2006. He said they agreed that a similar event would go over well in Floyd, and they wanted their event to be used to benefit the community.
In 2007, three Floyd County children — Chance Harman, Joshua Cantrell and Kassidy Foster — died from cancer, so the men decided the proceeds would go to the families of the children.
Thompson said he wasn’t sure how well the fun run would catch on that first year.
“We said if we had 25 tractors we were going to be tickled to death. We had 52,” Thompson said.
Since then, the event has grown each year and has broken triple digits in tractors on at least two occasions.
According to the group’s website, $6,500 has been raised for local charities since the event began. Though the charities change each year, the ride is always held in memory of the three children.
The ride officially begins at 10 a.m., but Thompson said people begin to gather as early as 8 a.m. at his father Arlie Thompson’s farm on Christiansburg Pike.
The route varies each year, but Thompson said it is always coordinated to include a parade through downtown Floyd and to pass by Marvin and Minnie West’s farm around noon for lunch. This year’s menu includes chili, macaroni and cheese, and homegrown tomato sandwiches.
After lunch, the ride continues, winding its way back to its starting point on roads people rarely use, Bishop said.
“We go on country roads, roads most people don’t see. It’s real pretty,” Bishop said.
Bishop said he couldn’t recall a tractor fun run without perfect weather.
For many riders, the day also gives them an opportunity to reminisce over their fond, tractor-related memories.
Such is the case for Christiansburg’s Helen Eanes who participates with her husband, Harold, each year.
“It’s a day I can look back on the way I grew up and the tractors that were used back then. A lot of good memories,” Helen Eanes said.
Eanes said she and her husband routinely bring a diesel tractor that once belonged to her father, Raymond Lucas. The tractor meant so much to her father that when he was confined to his bed, Harold Eanes would drive it around to his bedroom window so he could listen to it run.
No matter if people attend for the scenic ride, the fellowship or the chance to relive good memories, Thompson said most people leave asking the same question.
“They want to know every year, ‘Are you going to do it next year?’ ” Thompson said.
His answer is always the same. “As long as people want us to [hold it] and we have people coming out, we’re going to keep on doing this thing,” Thompson said.
This year’s ride will again begin at 10 a.m., with a moonwalk and other entertainment for children beginning about 8 a.m., and will include raffle drawings for two tractor-themed fleece blankets at lunch.
Tickets to ride in the event are $10 for adults and $5 for riders ages 7 to 12. Riders ages 6 and younger ride for free, and all tickets include lunch. Wagons will be available for people who would prefer to ride on the back of a tractor.
For information visit floydcountytractorfunrun.com.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643