PDT Staff Writer
Long before noon Saturday, people were staking their claims to seats in the grandstand at the Scioto County Fair. Blankets are duct-taped down to a bleacher seat, guaranteeing when the big crowds hit at about an hour before the Demolition Derby actually starts, they will still have a place to sit and cheer.
Meanwhile, banged up, spray-painted, dedicated cars, were being directed into the pits.
“Right before the show starts, they always have a driver’s meeting, it’s to find out where the cars are lined up,” Bill Jackson of Cavalcade of Thrills said. “Then, they kind of lay down the parameters, tell them what the purses are going to be, how many places go to the feature, things like that.”
Jackson said safety is also stressed in those meetings.
“They’re not allowed to hit the driver’s door when they are in the derby itself,” Jackson said. “They are allowed to reinforce the driver’s door as much as they want to, whereas other places there’s limitations on what they are allowed to do. They have to wear helmets. They’re not allowed to get out of their cars while it’s going, and we stop for fire or anything like that, so safety is always emphasized.”
Jackson knows, just as the Scioto County Fair Board knows, a lot of people participate in the Demolition Derby.
“We’ve been doing real well this summer,” Jackson said. “Some of the places I have heard about say their car count is down. But ours have been up so far.”
Jackson said Cavalcade of Thrills is known throughout the midwest for putting on an entertaining evening of thrills and spills.
“We do this all over Ohio,” Jackson said. “We’ve had them in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania too, but primarily Ohio.”
Arguably the biggest day for 4-H’ers who raise market animals is the livestock auction. Kids raise animals throughout the year, and they become attached to them. That is why it is always a very poignant moment when that animal is purchased at an auction.
“It’s the pinnacle of what these kids have done here all year long,” Scioto County Fair Board President Darren Gahm said. “Steer projects last all year. And it’s not as much for me that the steers are leaving as it is the kids around you who are bawling their eyes out. But it all comes together here. This is where the community supports these kids and their 4-H projects.”
The payoff is when that animal is purchased, it puts sometimes a lot of money in the child’s pocket.
“What they have done for years - some of them use the money to buy their school clothes - they reinvest it back into the next animal they are getting, some save it for college,” Gahm said. “There is all aspects of it. So they take it and put it to good use. A lot of them donate it to the endowment fund, for example the (ceiling) fans, we finally got that done this year. They know what to do with it. That’s what 4-H is about. It teaches responsibility. It teaches how to manage their money and how to take care of their animal. This is what it’s all about.”
Note: Results of the demolition derby came in after the Daily Times’ print deadline.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org