MILLINOCKET, Maine — The stars of Discovery Channel’s “American Loggers” and the town’s snowmobile club hope to draw as many as 3,000 people to Millinocket Regional Airport on Saturday for the Katahdin region’s first truck and tractor pull in at least 20 years.
The event likely will draw at least 120 vehicles ranging from street-legal pickup trucks to monster tractor-trailers and has already attracted some major sponsors, including Dysart’s, Daigle & Houghton Inc., Mack Truck, Bangor Truck and Trailer Inc. and Freightliner and Western Star of Maine Inc., according to “American Loggers” co-star Jeff Pelletier.
“We will have some really exciting classes there — truck stop tractors, modifieds, super stock and we will have the big rigs, too,” said Brian Wiley, a member of and event organizer with the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club of Millinocket, which is hosting the event.
Gerald Pelletier Inc. logging crews dug the 500-foot-long, 60-foot-wide track near one of the local airport’s two runways for free, with the support of town leaders, as part of their plans to make the track one of New England’s premiere tractor- and truck-pull sites.
“It will be in great shape,” Jeff Pelletier said. “We have already dug it up and put it back down. We will redo the track on Saturday, too.”
“When you have a track that’s really hard, the trucks don’t get the traction they want, so we will take our grader and remove 6 or 7 inches of topsoil at a time and lay it back down, but wet and moist at the same time because we will be watering it [slightly], too,” Pelletier said.
The event will be the region’s first in at least 20 years, said Eldon Pelletier, one of the “American Loggers” crewmembers.
Bleachers, utilities, lights, a loudspeaker system, concession stands and other amenities will be ready for the crowd by Saturday, Wiley said.
Town and airport officials have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that the airport’s primary functions are not compromised, Wiley said. During the event, the airport’s main runway will be open as normal, and the secondary runway will be open essentially to emergency landings only, according to airport manager Dennis Cox.
“Everything has been planned around what the FAA has told us we need to do,” Wiley said.
The Pelletier family’s previous charity efforts for the town include clearing about 4 acres, expanding and leveling a dirt road and digging a drainage ditch along the road as part of the Jerry Pond revitalization effort in 2009.
The family helped build the region’s first ATV trail and a multiuse trail, used mostly by snowmobiles, that runs from Penobscot Avenue near the new Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant to a multiuse recreational bridge outside town.
Since “American Loggers” debuted on the Discovery Channel in early 2009, the reality TV program has used flashbacks and re-enactments to portray the personal and professional difficulties endured by the Pelletiers — a family of seven brothers and a host of grandchildren — as they struggle to keep their logging business going.
Taping for the show’s third season is under way.
This story has been updated to clarify that the airport will remain open during the event.