By Kathryn Menue


On Thursday, Aug. 11, the tractor pulls returned to the Boone County Fair. Each year, the tractor pulls are full of loud, smoky, and heart-racing excitement. In 2016, the tractor pulls started in a whole new way.

David Yakey, 68, participated and helped run the tractor pulls for about 53 years at the Boone County Fair. It was a passion he looked forward to every year.

However, Yakey suffered a massive stroke in December 2015, leaving him without speech and wheelchair bound. Worst of all, Yakey couldn’t participate in the sport he loves the most.

“He’s kind of trapped in that body,” Yakey’s niece Tina Olson said.

For the man who gave so much to the tractor pulling event every year of the Boone County Fair for over 53 years, the Boone County Fair Association made sure Yakey still had a place in the Illi State Pullers and Tri-County Pullers truck and tractor pulls, even if he couldn’t race anymore.

“We’re honoring the pull here for him today,” Boone County Fair Association Vice President Jack Ratcliffe said at the event.

Yakey 2The fair association honored Yakey at the Grandstand stage prior to the tractor pulls. Ratcliffe presented Yakey with a plaque with a picture of Yakey’s tractor embedded in the frame.

As Ratcliffe recalled all of the years of pulling, with Yakey as the superintendent of the events, Ratcliffe shared some of the highlights of Yakey’s time with the pull.

Yakey began pulling as a sophomore in high school. Since then, Yakey only missed one year of pulling.

He was always “chasing a championship while pulling,” Ratcliffe said.

Although Yakey had little means of communication, he still highly aware of his surroundings, becoming very emotional with his friends and family surrounding him on stage.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” David’s wife, Barb Yakey said. “We only found out [about the dedication] Monday.”

The family quickly pulled together to support David Yakey.

Yakey’s children Jamie, Jason, and Jennifer came to support their father along with his sisters Caroline and Sharon and their husbands Gilbert and Sharon.

Yakey was also surrounded by numerous nieces and nephews, along with great-nieces.

Ratcliffe thanked the family for coming to “support and help continue the tractor pull” tradition. Most of all, Ratcliffe thanked Yakey for his dedication to the sport.

“Thank you so much for all your years of service,” Ratcliffe said.

Ratcliffe wasn’t the only one in gratitude to Yakey.

Yakey 3“Dave has been a major supporter for the tractor pulling,” fair president Lyle Lee said. “We know that your home with us for all the time. We appreciate that.”

By the time Ratcliffe and Lee finished the dedication, everyone on stage had tears in their eyes.

“This is probably dad’s favorite day of the year,” Jason Yakey said, pausing for a moment to control the emotion in his voice. “He loves this sport. Loves this fair. Thank you, and God bless everyone.”

With the ceremony complete, Jason wheeled his father to the front of the stage, where Yakey could have a front row seat of the tractor pulls, and where Yakey could see his tractor on display in the Grandstand track for yet another pull.


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