Not even monsoon-like conditions could dampen local fans' enthusiasm for the event
The rain started coming down in buckets about five minutes before the start of Friday's demolition derby at the 156th Wayne County Fair.
Up in the grandstand, fans began scrambling for cover. But down on the infield, officials went about their business seemingly oblivious to the downpour.
They simply shrugged, pulled rain ponchos over their heads and slogged out into the rapidly deepening mud.
John Whetmore acted as the evening's emcee. He took up his post at around 7:15 p.m. John welcomed fans to the fair and introduced Melanie Hanson, who performed rousing rendition of the National Anthem.
And then, despite the monsoon-like conditions, action got underway.
Josh Decker and Jeremy Gulley are the driving force behind Spinning Wheels Productions, the company that organized and ran this year's first demo derby.
Josh is based in Whitney Point, while Jeremy works out of Long Eddy.
“I'm super excited, even with the weather,” Josh said. “It should be a great night here at the Wayne County Fair.”
Competitors from all over the region made the trip to Dyberry Township for this year's opening night event.
“We have guys here from as far away as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont,” Josh said.
“Demolition derby is in a really good spot right now. We have lots of people coming out to see the shows and lots of guys following us all over the northeast.”
Demo derby opened up the 156th annual fair and will also close it out. The second show is set for Saturday night right back in front of the grandstand.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children. Action begins at 7 p.m.
Friday's demolition derby featured a total of 80 entrants in four divisions.
First prize in the Economy V8 team bracket was $2,000. Second place earned $450, third place $250 and the “Mad Dog” designation brought with it a $200 payday.
The Economy Compact bracket also boasted a first prize of $2,000.
While there was a great deal of money on the line for the adults, Decker was even more excited about the fledgling youth division.
A total of 24 local lads and lasses between the ages of 12 and 15 signed up and took part.
“It's super cool,” Josh said. “We want to get the kids interested in demo derby at a young age, that's the goal anyway.”
Winners in the major divisions were...
•Mike Clinger and Phillip Schell (Economy Two-Man V8)
•Pete Hansen and Jaime Rake (Economy Two-Man Compact)
•Molly McLennon (Youth Class)
Sean Highhouse of Damascus was just one of the local drivers excited to get out there and see what he could do.
A 19-year-old and recent Honesdale High School graduate, Sean's decision to enter the derby was last-minute.
“I started working on the car Sunday,” he said of his Buick Century. “So it came together pretty quick.”
Highhouse's car was easy to spot among those lined up on the track waiting to compete. It featured a custom purple paint job and the name “Minion8er” emblazoned on its side.
This was Sean's fifth demolition derby. He got involved for the first time a little over four years ago.
When asked if he was hoping to win, Sean just smiled and said: “Not really. It'd be nice, but I really want to have fun.”
While Highhouse's goal may have been modest, his performance was anything but. Sean did actually go out there, have fun … and he also won the Bone Stock division title!