Combines line Highway 47 on August 17, 2018. Photo: Chas Hundley

After a year’s hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Annual Banks BBQ, Truck & Tractor Pull will return to Banks from August 20 - 22 at Sunset Park.

What would have been the 75th year in 2020 of holding the popular festival was put on hold under restrictions limiting gatherings throughout Oregon to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Like thousands of community festivals, parades, and events throughout the world, the event was canceled. 

This year will be celebrated as the event’s 75th, said Banks Sunset Park Association President Brenda Herinckx in a phone call with the Banks Post. 

Children enjoy a tractor ride.Photo taken August 18, 2018 by Chas Hundley

Herinckx said that an announcement declaring that the event is back on the park’s Facebook page has taken off.

“Honestly, I was shocked at what we’ve seen so far,” she said. “20,000 people have seen it, and there’s almost 600 shares.”

It’s hard to quantify exactly how many people attend the annual tradition in Banks, but the stands at the Sunset Speedway are generally packed, the lines for barbecue long, and the grounds of Sunset Park filled with people enjoying the event’s many activities, which include frog jumping contests, tractor rides for children, vendors, a parade, and more. 

Bob and Theresa Derbyshire show off their 1950 Plymouth Suburban. Photo taken August 18, 2018 by Chas Hundley

The event features the signature barbecue, and a competition of steel and diesel’s strength in the form of a truck and tractor pull, the spectacle of the combine derby, where hulking farm vehicles who’ve served their time in the field are repurposed as festooned gladiatorial combatants on the Sunset Speedway, activities for children, a car show, vendors and booths, and much more. 

Herinckx said that the Association has been keeping an eye on coronavirus restrictions for events, and believes that by August, the event can be held in line with what Oregon Governor Kate Brown has laid out to restrict the spread of COVID-19. As of June 22, Oregon is hovering close to the 70% goal for adults with at least one dose of a vaccine, but progress has slowed to a crawl. 

“I think for the most part, we can put at least a couple thousand in there,” Herinckx said of the stands at the speedway, where the largest crowds gather to watch the events on the dirt track. 

Attendees line up for the barbecue. Photo taken August 18, 2018 by Chas Hundley

Proceeds from the event go to maintaining park facilities, which in turn support the children’s sports and other youth activities that take place throughout the year at Banks Sunset Park and in Schlegel Hall.

For more information, visit the Banks Sunset Park Association website or their Facebook page.