Arcola National Truck and Tractor Pull began in 1954, as an event of the Arcola Days annual festival, the major fundraiser for the Arcola Volunteer Fire Department. In the early days, farm tractors pulled sleds with people standing on them for weight. Periodically, another person would step on to the wooden sled, giving the tractor more weight to pull. Arcola Days eventually waned in popularity, but the pull survived as a stand-alone fundraiser.
In 1977, Carl Branning, persuaded his brother Leonard “Babe” Branning (both charter volunteer firefighters) to construct a permanent clay pull track on his property. The site was formerly a tile mill, and the excellent clay used for tiles made a perfect pull track. From 1977 until 2010, Babe supported the Arcola Volunteer Fire Department by providing this permanent site for the tractor pull, and for many years he coordinated the event. The firefighters provided materials and labor to construct and maintain the buildings, bleachers, the grounds, and the track itself. In 2011, after Babe passed away, the park was donated to Lake Township, with Arcola Volunteer Fire Department granted perpetual access to the park for the annual Arcola National Truck and Tractor Pull. The park was dedicated during a ceremony at the pull in 2011, and is now called Branning Park.
The Arcola National Truck and Tractor Pull operates exclusively as a fundraiser for the Arcola Volunteer Fire Department, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit fire department. There are no paid staff on the department, nor for this event, and over 300 volunteers gather each year to make this fabulous pull possible.
The Department appreciates the loyal fans who support this annual event, which makes it possible for Arcola Volunteer Fire Department to continue to serve Lake Township and surrounding communities.
(With special thanks to Bob Corbat for historical information)