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Banks BBQ gets ready for 70th year

Fast draw contest is new, but old favorites return to town's summer event

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRIS VANDEHEY - Dave Edwards drove a 1923 John Deere Model D tractor with Chris Vandehey tagging along as co-pilot in a Banks BBQ event years ago.Banks will kick off its 70th annual barbecue this Friday, Aug. 14, at Sunset Park and celebrate throughout the rest of the weekend.

More than 5,000 people are expected to show up over the Banks BBQ’s three-day run, David Duyck, president of the Banks Sunset Park Association (BSPA).

The event acts as a fundraiser to keep the park open to the community for baseball and softball games, nonprofit groups and more.

“It’s a privately owned park. The state doesn’t own it, so we have to raise money to keep it open,” said John Ireland, this year’s parade grand marshal.

The grand marshal designation goes to someone in the community who’s been a part of the Banks BBQ for a long time, and Ireland has been attending the event since he was a young boy. He helped raise money for the park over a number of years, mainly through a tractor class he started.

He was nominated for the honor at a BSPA board meeting earlier this year.

Ireland will lead the hour-long parade on Sunday, Aug. 16, an extravaganza that includes cars, floats and combines.

The parade will wind from the north end of town to its finishing point in Sunset Park. There are around 60 to 70 entries every year, and they’re judged by a panel before the parade begins. The event is also a celebration for anyone with a sweet tooth.

“We believe in throwing candy,” Duyck said. “Seriously, we don’t hold back.” COURTESY PHOTO: CHRIS VANDEHEY - A popcorn and peanuts stand represented the lone food option at the Banks BBQ decades ago. Mary Ann Vandehey was in charge of the snack wagon, with daughters Jeanette and Sharon in line for goodies. This years event will feature multiple vendors.

Brand new this year is the arrival of Western fast draw, which will attract competitors from around the U.S. as they compete to shoot targets with wax bullets from Colt replica guns.

The Oregon 6 Gun World Fast Draw Championship will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, said Forest Grove resident Howard Baker, organizer of a new fast draw club in Banks.

Other returning events include the Wish to be Tough CrossFit 5K (participants will run around Sunset Speedway to raise money given to the Make a Wish Foundation), and the Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. Both happen Friday night.

Another huge returning tradition is the Banks BBQ tractor pull, happening both Saturday and Sunday night — a competition to see which tractors in different weight classes can pull sleds the farthest after weight is put on those sleds at different points in time. The tractor pull was originally a horse pull in which equines would pull sleds with sacks of wheat progressively added as they pulled.

The tractor pull started around 1970, according to Duyck.

Another popular feature, the Combine Destruction Derby, will make its 16th appearance at the Banks BBQ as well. The derby pits older combines that are worn out inside against each other, with drivers ramming their competitor until only one rig is left standing. The tractor pull has always been a crowd favorite.

Duyck’s nephew, Cole Duyck, 28, has been the victor for the last two years. Audiences can look forward to seeing Cole smashing into other competitors in his combine, Duyck Dynasty, Sunday afternoon.

And of course, the event would be nothing without the famous barbecued beef sandwiches that have been around for 70 years and serve as the main fundraiser for Sunset Park.

“We usually sell out, and a lot of times we have to put up a sign at the entrance saying we’re over capacity,” said Ireland.

“There are a huge number of volunteers for this thing, and the BBQ would not work out without them,” said Duyck. “Supporting us is supporting the community.”

If you go

The 70th annual Banks BBQ is set for Friday through Sunday, Aug. 14 to 16, at Sunset Park, 280 Wilkes St. in Banks.

Here is a partial schedule:

- Wish to be Tough CrossFit 5K, 7 p.m. Friday

- Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament, 7 p.m. Friday

- Pancake Breakfast, 8 a.m. Saturday

- Oregon 6 Gun World Fast Draw Championship, 9 a.m. Saturday

- Tractor Pull, 2 p.m. Saturday

Pancake Breakfast, 7 a.m. Sunday

- Grand Parade, 11 a.m. Sunday

- Misty Mamas bluegrass band, noon Sunday

- Tractor and Truck Pull, 1 p.m. Sunday

- Combine Destruction Derby, 4:30 p.m. Sunday