Canaan, New York
Hard news | Local food/farms | Local living
6 June 2019 12:36PM
Betsy Miller


CHATHAM – “It’s fun. It’s a real adrenaline rush,” says Samantha McMurray, a demolition derby driver. “It’s a sport that never seems to lose interest by drivers or the people in the stands,” says Assistant Fair Manager, John Craft. “Drivers need to make contact with a live automobile every 60 seconds,” says Frank Roberts, owner of the management company Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby.

Now’s the time for aspiring drivers to head over to http://www.ColumbiaFair.com and download applications for the 4, 6 or 8 cylinder competitions as well as those for mini-vans/light trucks and full size vans/pick-ups. The competitions take place Wednesday and Thursday evenings of Columbia County Fair Week in Chatham, Aug. 28th thru Labor Day, Sept. 2nd, beginning at 6:30PM.

Drivers start by hunting up a car that mixes durability with expendability. One that is easy to strip down but sturdy enough to withstand some serious impact. All chrome and glass must be removed. All seats except the driver’s must be removed. Airbags must be removed. The windshield must be removed. You get the idea – - just the basics. The driver’s side door must be painted white so that an assigned number will be clearly visible to Derby officials and the commentator. Tires must be stock sizes and no alterations can be made to the engine or frame with the exception of driver side door reinforcement. And only 5 gallons of gas will be allowed in gas tanks. Every precaution is put in place to make a screaming, crashing, smoking, smashing competition as safe as possible.

The entry fee per vehicle is $30.00 but only a limited number of slots for each heat are available. Last minute entries – the day of – will only be accepted if there is still room in that class. There is an additional $10.00 late fee for each entry. Altogether, the Derby features a total cash purse of $1,400. thanks, in part, to sponsors HudsonValley360.com, Madsen Overhead doors and W&B Golf Carts, Inc.

To make things even more interesting, drivers are encouraged to “decorate” their vehicles. A theme for each evening has been selected and the most imaginative entry (even if no longer mobile) will be recognized with a prize. Wednesday evening, Aug. 28th, the theme is SMALL FOOT (an animated movie). Wednesday includes 4 cylinder, mini-van, mini pick-ups and mini SUV heats. Thursday, the 29th, drivers can emphasize the bizarre with a TWILIGHT ZONE theme. Thursday’s competitions include 6 cylinder/ 8 cylinder cars and full-size pick-ups and vans.

“This is among our most popular attractions,” Craft said. “Families come to cheer on their sons and daughters and a high percentage of the drivers live within 20 miles of the Fairgrounds. Even more live in the upstate region. There is a lot of local interest.”

The 179th Columbia County Fair, Route 66 (GPS: 182 Hudson Avenue), Chatham, NY, opens on Wednesday, August 28th at noon and runs through Monday, Labor Day, Sept 2nd. Admission includes all entertainment and parking. Daily hours are Wednesday: noon to 11PM, Thursday – Monday 10AM – 11PM. Daily admission is $10.00. Sunday, $15.00. Children 12 and under are always free. Thursday, seniors can enter for half price until 4PM and youth under 18 are free until 4PM. Discounted advance sale ticket information is at http://www.columbiafair.com or call 518.392.2121.

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