ISLAND COUNTY FAIR UPDATE: Tug of war at fair will benefit local kids

Bill Tucker is confident he’ll meet his goal on Sunday, because, well, he has a lot of pull.

“We have plenty of volunteers,” said the Clinton deck-refinishing contractor. “We just have to choose the team.”

Tucker has set up a rope tug-of-war tournament with muscle squads from Oak Harbor and Mukilteo — hated, despised Mukilteo — to benefit his Shoes for Kids Foundation, which he and his wife, Sandra, have operated for eight years.

The big event will be 3 p.m. Sunday, at the fairgrounds in Langley, as part of the Island County Fair.

A rematch has been scheduled during the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, Sunday, Sept. 7 at Lighthouse Park.

Tucker said each tug-of-war team will have 20 members; 10 men, 10 women. They’ll try to yank their opponents across a soggy centerline for victory and bragging rights.

Tucker hopes to raise money through “heckler fees.” Fans of each team can purchase a two-sided placard on a stick. One side says “Yay!” and the other side says “Boo!” Tucker encourages fans to add their own verbal comments, for emphasis.

South Whidbey High School cheerleaders have volunteered to distribute the heckle sticks, Tucker said.

Suggested donation? “We don’t have a specific amount,” he said with a wink. “Let’s just say a dollar won’t do.”

The foundation provides $50 gift certificates to be used at the shoe counter of Big 5 Sports in Oak Harbor. The Tuckers issue the certificates to youngsters in need of shoes for school.

Tucker said this is the first year he has reached out to the community for help with the project. Since the demise of his cedar furniture business, he hasn’t had the cushion to pay for the shoes himself, he said.

“We want to keep these kids in shoes,” Tucker said. “When the kids get their new shoes, they’re styling, man.”

The trash talking is already running high. Mukilteo has been throwing around labels such as “Whidbey Weenies” and “Whidbey Wimps.”

Tucker retorts with “Mukky Milquetoasts” and “The Mainland Anemics.” He has other choice labels for the Mukilteo team, including “Bed-wetters” and “Doofusses.”

“We hope to make this thing a lot of fun,” Tucker said.

He said if community involvement is positive this year, he may try to expand the event to tug-of-war teams from schools and other groups.

He admits that launching a volunteer effort can be chancy.

“We may even forget to bring the rope,” he said.

But Tucker is confident of victory in the tug-of-war, thanks to a “secret weapon.” He won’t say what it is, only that it has four legs, a tail, a mane and pointy ears, and makes a sound a lot like “whinny.”

For information about Shoes for Kids Foundation, call Tucker at 321-2188.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or

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