|Oh, we have got to see this! It was an ad for the Hillsdale, Michigan County Fair. The entertainment for the opening night was the Second Annual Combine Demolition Derby. We could hardly stand it. Long a fantasy of mine to demolish a 73 Chrysler in a derby, the next best thing had to be seeing giant farm implements annihilating each other in the mud and dust of a county fair track. Veronica, who grew up|
make the pot even sweeter, we found out that Hillsdale is
the town in Michigan that elected the 18 year old highschooler,
Michael Sessions, for mayor and proudly proclaims themselves
as home of The Most Popular Fair on Earth. Sweet.
Not the biggest, not the best, not the oldest or even most
famous, but the
most popular. Intriguing.
A bit more research, a few phone calls and we were on our way. We arrived in Hillsdale, a charming little village with a Wal-Mart
on the outskirts and more than half of their main street storefronts
closed. The décor of the town seemed to be flag-draped with intense
lawn ornamentation. Hillsdale could possibly be the yard ball
capital of the world. And hey, who doesnt love a good
Victorian garden gazing globe?
We checked in to our room at the Hillsdale Motel, a piece of Americana if there ever was one, complete with the marquee letter board that read Anything Almost Right Is Wrong and
Homemade signs directed us toward the parking area, run by a local church, in the cemetery. Wait, what? Yup, graveside parking, right in the middle of the burial grounds, just 3 bucks.
Inside the fairgrounds, folks were already lining up at the grandstand gate over an hour before the big event. This was gonna be huge! We
The machines entered the arena for the judging, by applause, of the Best Decorated and the $100 prize. Competition was stiff with numerous great slogans lovingly spray painted across the sheet metal. We Eat Deere, Git er Done and She Thinks My Combines Sexy were among our favorites. Tributes to sweethearts and sponsoring farms adorned them all, as well as some interesting color schemes.
gave us some time to size up the drivers. They were young, determined
and very appreciative of their pit crews, standing on the sidelines
with welding torches, extra parts and great ideas. The competition
was over when The General Lee sounded his horn that blasted Dixie.
Nothing fires up a crowd way up north in Michigan like a confederate
flag festooned combine that plays Dixie.
|The rodeo-style announcer had the crowd count down to the green flag and they were off. The site and sound of multi-ton, twelve foot high, thirty foot long heavy equipment monsters bashing head-on at full throttle brought us and the entire crowd to its feet cheering and laughing. Yes, laughing. The crowd was caught up in a combination of awe and maniacal glee. Holy crap! It|
|After the initial carnage, it began to settle into a war of attrition. According to the rules--yes, there are rules--there are two ways to be eliminated. Either your machine is completely disabled or you are pushed out of the ring. Clouds of diesel smoke filled the air as the survivors played out their strategies. Once the smaller and|
The winning combine, initially purchased at a price upward of a hundred thousand dollars, was awarded $600.00 and bragging rights for the year. Certainly not doing it for the money, the winner was asked to give the crowd his thoughts on his experience in the derby. He pronounced it A great alternative motorsport.
We have to agree.
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