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February 29, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Businesses prepare for tractor pull, influx of fans

University students won’t be the only group filtering in to Bowling Green this weekend as the annual National Tractor Pulling Championships, scheduled for Aug. 18-20 at the Wood County Fairgrounds, is expected to draw a crowd of more than 60,000 people to the area.

The event, according to Mike Brown, treasurer of the Northwestern Ohio Tractor Pullers Association (NWOTPA), is the world’s largest outdoor tractor pull and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

NWOTPA has sponsored the tractor pull since 1967, when it branched off from the Wood County Fair Board, which previously sponsored the event in Bowling Green but could no longer afford to continue it,

Brown said.

According to Brown, handling the increased flow of people into town means local businesses in Bowling Green “couldn’t be more busy,” he said.

“It’s easily their busiest weekend of the year,” Brown said, referring to grocery stores, hotels, bars and restaurants as receiving the biggest boost in business.

Dan Galway, store manager at Kroger, said although he anticipates they will sell a bit more food than usual, the majority of sales this weekend will be in large cases of water and beer and bags of ice.

And like last year, Galway said Kroger will send a semi-truck filled with bags of ice to the fairgrounds to sell all weekend.

“Last time we sent 36 pallets with 100 bags of ice on each pallet,” he said, “And we just sold it all right from the truck.”

Like Kroger, management at Wal-Mart said they also expect bigger sales this weekend in water and other beverages.

Additionally, Wal-Mart plans to increase the number of staff working in its store to accommodate an increase in customers this weekend, by shifting some of its usual weekday staff to weekend hours.

Area restaurants and bars will also see bigger crowds this weekend, particularly those located downtown or that serve carry-out, Brown said.

Vic Pirooz, owner of Easy Street Café, said the restaurant will be considerably busier this weekend but that it will be due partially to move-in.

“A lot of the pullers will just go out in the evening and hit the bars, but we’ll do decent business,” he said. “The breakfast places will do even better, but not necessarily the sit-down dinner places.”

Ann Bolla, assistant general manager at Bob Evans in Bowling Green, said her restaurant feeds large groups during the tractor pull each year and will increase both its wait staff and cook staff this weekend to accommodate them.

“We’re increasing five servers on each shift and adding a couple cooks on each shift,” she said.

Though participants have the option of camping overnight, some local hotels are completely booked weeks before the tractor pull.

At Best Western Inn in Bowling Green, front desk receptionist Laura Soltis said the hotel had no vacancies as of Tuesday. Some guests are parents helping students with move-in, she said, but many of the rooms have been booked a year in advance for tractor pull participants.

“We get a lot of repeats – people who stayed here for the last tractor pull who booked a room when they were here last year,” she said

Soltis said she has had to turn away those seeking reservations for this weekend, but refers them to the Best Western in Perrysburg or to other hotels in Bowling Green.

As of Tuesday, other hotels in Bowling Green like the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn also had no vacancies. Those who cannot find accommodations in Bowling Green stay in surrounding towns like Findlay and Fostoria, Brown said.

“Most do stay within a 70 mile radius of the fairgrounds,” he said.

Like other local businesses, Soltis said hotel employees are busily planning for their guests’ arrival this weekend.

“We’re trying to prepare our local shuttles and get our breakfast bar ready,” she said. “We want to make sure we will be able to accommodate the full house.”

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