Support your local demolition derby
As a reporter at the Caledonia Argus my first year out of college, I had some interesting experiences, and plenty of fun, covering stories for the local paper – sports, schools, city government, the whole business.
The most fun I had, though, was watching cars, minivans and combine harvesters destroy each other in a hellish maelstrom of screeching metallic carnage.
I’m talking about demolition derbies, of course.
To get a sense of my enthusiasm for the sanctioned automotive destruction you find each summer at events such as the Houston County Fair and Eitzen’s Family Fun Fest, here’s the kind of copy I was filing back in 2003:
“The atavistic spectacle … was comparable to Rome’s decimation of Carthage during the Third Punic War. Steel was shredded, tires were atomized, and the world stood still as the lumbering mechanized behemoths crashed and clanged and violently cavorted, fighting for survival – and cash prizes.”
That was my account of the first demolition derby I ever attended – the combine derby at Family Fun Fest, Eitzen, July 2003. I get a little nostalgic sometimes.
Bashed-in fenders, smoke-belching engines, high-octane apocalyptic destruction – what’s not to love?
Destruction can be such a beautiful thing.
I live in the Twin Cities now, where I work at a weekly newspaper in the south suburbs, but was back in Caledonia for a few days last week to lend a hand at The Argus in the interim between the departure of editor Charlie Warner and the arrival of the paper’s new editor, Emily Bialkowski.
While in town I had a chance to chat with Harley Meiners, president of the Eitzen Lions Club. With the Eitzen Lions being the group that puts together the Family Fun Fest each year, I had to ask Harley about the derbies.
Harley had some good news and some bad news.
The good: The combine derby returns this year to Family Fun Fest, on the grounds of the Eitzen Community Center the afternoon of July 4.
The bad: This could very well be the combine derby’s final year at Family Fun Fest.
It’s not a problem with attendance numbers, apparently. The problem seems to be the number of combine harvesters available for obliteration.
Eitzen was the first town in this region to hold a combine demolition derby, about a decade ago, and since then the event has become a popular attraction at county fairs and summer festivals across the state.
As a result, it seems the supply of old, junk combines, the ones owners are willing to sacrifice in the derby pit, has dwindled considerably.
Which is a roundabout way of urging you to support your local demolition derby this summer.
The combine-harvester event in Eitzen this Fourth of July – don’t miss it. It could very well be your last chance to soak up the eye-popping aesthetic splendor of giant machines mercilessly, inexorably pounding each other into oblivion.