Fair Kicks off with a Bang.
J. C. Tilton
The Preble County Fair began this last week. It will run thru next Saturday night, the fair has numerous attractions and events. The midway always has plenty of food - when is the last time you had an elephant ear, a funnel cake, or my favorite - an A&W root beer. There are rides and games for young and old. Plenty of livestock will be exhibited and this is a chance for your suburban youngsters to see live farm animals such as chickens, rabbits, sheep, and cows. The evening attractions during the week include tractor pulls, harness racing, a couple of Country-Western singers and of course the demolition derbies.
Since the demolition derby has been a good revenue generator for the fair, they are running it on the first Saturday night of the fair and the last Saturday night to maximize attendance. A decent sized crowd was on hand this past Saturday. Folks take this more seriously than what one would think. What does it take to crash one car into another? Well there are rules and many of them make the derby safer for the participants. Well as safe as you can be slamming two cars at one another. I spoke with a former referee, Matt Emerick. He inspected cars and was one of the referee's with flags that you would see posted along the edge of the track at past derbies. He used to receive phone calls and even had people stopping by his house to interpret rules and answer questions. He finally got badgered to a point where he would not answer any questions outside of the fair. So you can see that drivers take this seriously.
Matt related that the days are long gone when a fellow could spend a weekend preparing a demolition derby car to run. Some of the changes are good as compared to rules of 30 years ago. The changes have made this event more safer. Batteries and gas tanks now have to be relocated for example. Some of the cars are even sporting roll bars now. Instead of bailing wire to hold doors closed, they are frequently welded or bolted. The barricades around the track are now concrete instead of old wooden telephone poles to better protect the crowd.
I remember watching this as a youngster some 30 odd years ago, and I'll admit to being a high tech red neck, I drove in a couple of these myself when I was younger. But I see two things happening. Sure there is a lot of action on the track and many crowd pleasing hits. But as people put more and more time in these cars, it is harder to participate, not many as people will want to put the time and effort into building something that may only last for 1 night. The supply of drivers may dwindle in the future. The cars are also getting more durable. Welding the bodies also makes them more stronger. Moving and protecting the cars weak points make them harder to knock out. Some of the heats seemed more like Marathons. The last heat it was like a couple of sherman tanks ramming each other. It almost made you wonder if the car with the most gas would out last the other. With today's TV trained generations watching, the crowds want short bursts of intense action. I must say this event has changed in 30 years, it will be interesting how the event changes in response to these issues. Next issue will cover the Preble County fair tractor pulls. Comments: email: Chris Tilton