One South Langley family is here to prove there is a lot more fun to be had with garden tractors than just mowing lawns.
The story of Jay Kleiberg and Michelle Kleiberg-Turko and family, is a story of the progress for the Fraser Valley Antique Tractor Pullers Association (FVATP).
Kleiberg was told by a friend about a new class of tractors added to pulling competitions.
“In 2014, members of the club recognized they were getting older and needed to create more accessible tractor categories that would be more economical to own and carry to the pulls,” club representative Sandy Hope explained.
The obvious answer was the garden tractor, and according to Hope, they are readily available as older models are often left to rust in the back corners of yards.
“They just needed a new purpose and some care and attention to get them running again,” Hope added.
As Kleiberg put it – “I had a couple of garden tractors that had been parked for 25 years under a bush so I tinkered a bit and got one of them going again.”
The first time Kleiberg tried driving the garden tractor, him and his wife were overjoyed.
“We were having fun driving so I badgered the kids to try it,” his wife Michelle added, “soon, we were warmly welcomed by the club and hooked from then on.”
“We just kept adding kids and tractors,” Kleiberg added. The family now owns four garden tractors and one bigger tractor.
The two eldest Kleiberg children – Jessica and Jason – now regularly compete alongside their cousin Hunter Vaughan and Jessica’s friend, Kymberley Staff.
For Jessica – the Kleiberg’s youngest daughter, tractor pulling is “a fun hobby and a chance to spend time with Dad.”
The daughter had a dual triumph last year when she and her cousin Hunter both pulled a “full pull” on the big tractor in an open contest, completing the track without once getting stuck, Kleiburg explained.
Together they placed first, in a tie against eachother, beating out a number of adult competitors.
“I was pulling a wheelie nearly the whole way,” 17-year-old Hunter said with a grin.
Her younger brother, 15-year-old Jason, loves to flaunt his many trophies.
He attributes all the wins to picking the best line to drive “so [he doesn’t] get stuck. For him, besides fun had on the course, Jason appreciates meeting new people during the races.
Jessica’s friend – 17-year-old Kymberley Staff – admits its difficult to explain to others her age what she does.
“People don’t understand until I say I’m on a tractor and pulling a weight and show them a video of it on my phone,” Staff said.
The family’s puller-in-waiting, nine-year-old Brooklyn, a cousin of the Klieberg family.
Vaughan has wanted to tractor-pull for almost three years now.
“All I can do now is drive the tractor around the yard,” Vaughan said. She feels she is ready for the upcoming fair season.
Darren and Isabella Kleiberg-Turko are Jay and Michelle’s youngest children. They too, are ready and waiting to take their turn at being a part of the next generation of South Langley tractor pullers.
Origins of the Fraser Valley Antique Tractor Pullers Association
The origins of the Fraser Valley Antique Tractor Pullers Association (FVATP) began in early 1980, when a group of Fraser Valley farmers discussed how well their old tractors could pull farm equipment.
As tends to happen with farmers, there was a lot of discussion and not much agreement so they decided created FVATP to settle the disputes.
It was a challenge – added weight on the sled moves to increase the load on the drawbar with the objective of making it harder and harder to get to the end of the course. In other words, getting stuck before the end.
To rectify this, the club built a large sled with a moving weight for the tractors to pull in nine different classes based on the weight of the tractor. The objective was and still is to get to the end of a course approximately 100 yards long.
Now, thirty-five years later, the club is still thriving thanks in part to an initiative started in 2014, VATP club representative Sandy Hope explained.
The group become a regular attraction at local exhibitions including the Aldergrove Fair.
The tractor pull continues to be a popular facet of The Aldergrove Fair. Spectators will be able to see these pullers in action on July 20 and 21, along with about 30 regular tractors and 30 garden tractors competing.
For more information on how to become a tractor puller, those interested can contact Sandy Hope at email@example.com.