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Pomfret Pull Brings The Community Together: 30th Annual Fundraiser Keeps Tradition Alive

Jun 12, 2024 08:00PM ● By Pamela Brown Photography By Terri Chamberlain and Kevin Rice

What do oxen and chicken have in common? It sounds like the start of a joke, but this pairing creates the perfect partnership for the popular Pomfret Pull Competition and Chicken BBQ, an entertaining, lip-smackin’ event. “People come from all over the Upper Valley and beyond to see the oxen pull, but some people come just for the chicken,” says Kevin Rice of the Pomfret-Teago Volunteer Fire Department’s 30th annual fundraiser. “It’s two events in one—we’ve got food under the tents and over at the grandstand is the oxen pull. It’s a fun event. These animals see the weight getting put on the sled and once they drop the hook and hear that chain, they go. It’s close to a lost art and this keeps the old Vermont tradition alive,” says Kevin, fire chief and 21-year member of the department, and owner of Upper Valley Home Technologies.

The community event, which draws close to 600 people annually, takes place August 4, rain or shine, from 10am to 4pm at the Saskadena Six Ski Area. Admission is free; donations are welcomed to support the fire department, a 21-member volunteer emergency response organization that provides around-the-clock services to Pomfret and surrounding areas. “We’re proud of our group who dedicate up to 260 hours of fire training,” says Kevin. The event features a pony pull along with live music, kids’ activities, and a farmers’ market.

A Long History

The event was established in 1994 by Terri and Steven Chamberlin, Pomfret natives and owners of Ridgeline Farm. “I feel great that I can give this to the community,” says Terri, event coordinator and 31-year member of the fire department and former assistant chief. She grew up on the Harvey Farm with ox pulling as part of her family history. “My dad and my grandfather used oxen and steers for wood pulling and sugaring. My grandfather, Guy Lamson, taught me about ox pulling and I’ve continued with oxen agility competitions for the past 36 years,” she says. Steve learned from his grandfather and competes in ox pulling.

Kevin explains that ox pulls have been in existence for over 100 years. “When I grew up in Pomfret, there were quite a few farms around town using oxen for farming. I remember my neighbor pulling—it goes back many generations—and competitions started way back to get people together. Today, most pulls are found at county fairs, but local people and farmers have kept it alive here for 30 years,” he says.

Coming Together for a Good Time

The pull is a process of elimination where teams of two oxen pull a load of concrete blocks a certain distance with weights continually added to see which one carries the heaviest load. Ribbons and cash prizes are awarded in four classes. Some competitors travel from as far as Maine. “It’s a friendly competition, but sometimes cutthroat,” says Terri. “People get excited when the team is pulling, cheering them on and clapping. People pick a pair they want to win and some travel around to competitions because they love it. It’s about getting together and having a good time.”

While the pull is the main draw, the chicken is the prizewinner of the day. Kevin, along with Alex Tsouknakis, owner of Woodstock Pizza Chef, work together to slow-roast more than 100 whole chickens, slathered with special seasoning, over two wood-fired rotisseries. “There’s nothing like it. The meat has a smoky wood flavor and it falls off the bone,” says Kevin. A complete chicken meal comes with buns homemade by Alice Lamson, Terri’s mother; potato salad; corn; a beverage; and a brownie. Also, hot dogs, Alice’s homemade old-fashioned donuts, and other beverages are available for purchase. “The food is made by the fire department members, their significant others, and their children. It brings us as a department together to work as a family. We have a great time,” says Terri, whose father, Neil Lamson, sister-in-law, Christina Chamberlin, and her boyfriend, Jim Morgan, offer assistance along with Todd and Lisa Burrell of Prosper Valley Services.

The Pomfret Pull is a day to remember. “Come and get a taste of old Vermont and support your volunteer fire department, have some great food, meet some great people, and watch some incredible teams of farmers and oxen. It brings a lot of folks together and we get to talk about the fire department. It’s an overall fantastic atmosphere for such a worthy cause,” says Kevin. Terri adds, “It’s a fundraiser that helps the local fire department get items we can’t get otherwise and it brings the community together. Plus, Saksadena Six is a beautiful place—the brook, the mountains. One day one of my friends and I walked up onto the boardwalk and stood in awe looking at the event. It was breathtaking to see the people, the animals, and everything going on during this friendly, relaxed, enjoyable day.” For more information, visit

Pomfret-Teago Volunteer Fire Department

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