South Shore Breaker

Local youth excels at recent ox pull in Bridgewate­r

- To the editor: Drew Conroy Berwick, Maine, USA

On Friday, July 28, at the South Shore Exhibition, there was an internatio­nal ox pull for the first time in 15 years.

Four American ox teamsters qualifying in Maine came with their "bow" yoke oxen to compete. Two days before, on Wednesday evening, 29 Nova Scotian ox teamsters competed for the four spots that would allow them to compete with the Americans. They did this by competing in a round-robin-style pull, where each team had to pull a sled loaded with cement blocks 72 inches in order to continue in the event. In the end, it came down to four teamsters that could move the load, but none of them achieved the full pull of 72 inches.

Nineteen-year-old Brady Watkins, who comes from a long line of ox teamsters and competitor­s throughout the province, beat out 28 other ox teamsters for the number one spot on the internatio­nal team. His team pulled the load 69 inches. His father, Darren Watkins, and grandfathe­rs, Darrel Watkins and Peter Daniels, have all in the past won the coveted positions on the Nova Scotian team that gets to go to the USA with their oxen.

Winning this year allowed Brady to compete not only that Friday night in Bridgewate­r but also at the Cumberland Fair, located outside Portland Maine in September. It will be his first time in the United States.

Brady had his first pair of oxen at age six. Brady's had his team for the last 10 years and he raised them from calves. He's been competing with this pair of oxen for years and seems to really be in tune with the animals. As the ox bells rang and the dust rose from the pulling ring at the Big Ex, teamsters like Brady stood out in the setting sun coaxing his big team for just a few more inches on a heavy load. The other four ox teamsters who qualified for the internatio­nal pull in Bridgewate­r, as well as in Portland Maine, were Marcus Tufts, from Barrington, N.S., Walter Mailman from just outside Bridgewate­r had his team driven by Neil Oickle, and Jonathan J. Roach from Caledonia, N.S.

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