What explains the popularity of a demolition derby that has been an annual event for more than 40 years?
“I guess people just love to come and see cars get smashed,” said Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society President Al Nixon. The demolition derby at the 2022 Vankleek Hill Fair takes place on Saturday, August 20 at 7 p.m.
According to Nixon, the demolition derby became a part of the fair in approximately 1980 and beginning in 1983, organized the event for many years before handing the responsibility over to his son Cory.
“I’ve been involved with the derby pretty much since it started,” Nixon said.
The types of cars entered in the demolition derbies have changed over the years. Nixon remembers a lot of big, 1960’s and 1970’s American-made models.
“There weren’t any little Ford Focuses,” said Nixon.
Today, it is common to see much smaller compact, Asian and European cars being dented and demolished at the derby
Nixon said the demolition derby has become one of the most popular events of the fair and a huge fundraiser for the agricultural society.
A few changes have taken place at the demolition derby over the years. Concrete blocks now form the boundary of the derby area instead of logs. Nixon said the concrete blocks are much safer because the logs used to get moved too easily by traveling vehicles. There have also been moments at demolition derbies when the smashing and crashing got a bit overheated.
“We’ve had a few fires,” Nixon said.
The addition of a combine demolition derby has brought added a thrill to the fair in recent years. This year’s event takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 18. Nixon said it has helped bring more people to the fair on Thursday nights, which were normally less popular in the past.
“I get comments all the time about how we run it,” he said.
According to Nixon, there were 55 cars entered in the Vankleek Hill Fair demolition derby as of August 5.