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Power Pullers

A tractor pull to benefit youth scholarships begins its three day run at the Citrus County Fairgrounds tonight.

Featuring antique tractors and powerful souped up farm machines, the tractor pull has grown in popularity since its first show five years ago. Sponsored by the Citrus County Fair Association, the event also raises money for the fair association's youth scholarships.

"It's going to be a big show," said Jean Grant, fair manager and director of the tractor pull.

Tickets at the door are $10 for one day general admission, $5 for children age 11 to 6; 5 and under admitted free. After purchasing a one-day ticket at the gate today, a two-day ticket for Saturday and Sunday will be $15.

Gates open at 4 p.m. today, with a junior tractor race at 5 and the tractor pull at 6. On Saturday, gates open at 10 a.m., the junior tractor race begins at 10:30 and the pulls begin at noon. On Sunday, gates open at 11 a.m. and the pulls begin at 1 p.m.

The goal at a tractor pull is for the vehicle to pull a weighted sled across the floor of the livestock arena. The mechanical sled has a weight that makes it dig into the soft soil, causing the tractor to lose traction.

A typical pull is a short yet powerful event. The tractor strains to keep the sled moving as the crowd cheers on the action.

Now in its fifth year, the tractor pull helps the Citrus County Fair Association raise money for scholarships. Those scholarships are granted to students who participate in the Youth World Division at the Citrus County Fair. The division covers arts, crafts, sewing and other activities. To qualify, students must have entered in the fair's Youth Division the prior year before applying. They also are required to submit an essay about their project. The Fair Association will award four $500 scholarships this year with the money from the pull.

An added feature at this year's event is a robot battle in the Horticulture building near the livestock arena. Miniature robots in the one-pound "antweight" class will try to destroy each other during competitions scheduled for Saturday.

Other events include a rock climbing wall, a miniature railroad display and food vendors.

The tractor pull takes place at the Van Ness livestock arena. Take U.S. 41 S to the fairgrounds, adjacent to the airport just south of Inverness.