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Event-goers at the Sunset Speedway and Sunset Park can look forward to another year of tradition and family fun.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Ralph Puncochar of Hillsboro drives his John Deere tractor at Sunset Speedway during the 73rd Annual Banks BBQ.You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em and know when to pay a visit to the city of Banks.

BBQ, beer and bluegrass are in the lineup for Banks's 74th Annual BBQ and Truck & Tractor Pull, happening Friday, Aug. 16, through Sunday, Aug. 18, at Sunset Park, 12765 N.W. Main St.

The town's favorite event, hosted by the Banks Sunset Park Association, offers up a plethora of summertime activities and grub for the whole family.

General admission tickets to the park are free, while grandstand admission is $13 for adults, $7 for children six to 16, free for kids 5-years-old or younger and $30 for family passes (two adults and two children).

What began as an end-of-harvest community get-together back in the 1940s has grown into a three-day extravaganza full of friendly competition.

"It took a number of years and then the harvest started seeing more friendly disputes and questions like 'whose tractor can pull more?'" said David Duyck, Banks Sunset Park Association treasurer.

Duyck, like many of his fellow board members, grew up with the BBQ and Truck & Tractor Pull at the speedway and enjoys sharing the association's biggest event with new attendees.

Visitors can jump-start weekend fun on Friday, Aug. 16, by stopping by the hamburger stand or beer garden and joining in the Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament, held in Schegel Hall at 485 S. Main St.

The fun continues on Saturday, Aug. 17, with a pancake breakfast kick-off held 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., coinciding with car show registration. A stacked registration schedule for fast draw, tractor pull and garden tractor continues the rest of the morning, followed by the beer gardens opening and car show judging at noon.

Grandstands open at 1 p.m., along with truck registration, ushering in the main events for the afternoon.

The tractor pull begins at 2 p.m., while truck pulling — Banks Sunset Park Association's first female President Brenda Herinckx's favorite of the weekend — caps the evening off at 6 p.m.

Herinckx has been involved in the event for approximately 15 years, the last three as board president. She said she enjoys coming back year after year to lend a hand and work with the volunteer groups tight knit team.

As the weekend winds down on Sunday, Aug. 18, events only ramp up more. Visitors can catch another pancake breakfast and continue to register for events before the Banks Grand Parade at 11 a.m., followed by a flag raising at Schlegel Hall, famous BBQ sandwich and beer garden sales, and kids games held in the picnic area at noon.

Audiences can enjoy music from the bluegrass band Misty Mamas noon to 2 p.m. as they bop from booth to booth. The crowd-favorite annual tractor and truck pull begins at 1 p.m., while grease pole climbing and frog jump fun reside in the picnic area alongside other rides and children's games.

"The highlight of the weekend, to me, is usually the combine destruction derby," Duyck said. The rough and tumble event at 4:30 p.m. concludes the annual event's excitement just as pit sales close.

Proceeds from the weekend feed back into park operations to continue hosting events and maintaining buildings, according to Duyck.

Duyck and Herinckx estimate the Grand Parade sees close to 1,100 attendees, with the whole weekend bringing in nearly 5,000 visitors — more than twice Banks' population — over three days.

"It's all about putting on a good show for the crowd," Duyck said. "We get everything fixed up, we help each other and swap parts — even during competitions like the tractor pull, other people will start grabbing wrenches to help out if things aren't going quite right."

Those interested in visiting or volunteering can find out more about the event on the Banks Sunset Park Association's website.PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Noah Van Hoomissen of Banks steers his tractor after driving in the pull competition held at Sunset Speedway last year.


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