The Hamilton County Fair kicked off crowning Evelyn Drew as the VIP Silver Queen. along with the annual fashion revue. On Friday, the dog show started the morning off. Then the community rallied on Main Street to enjoy the evening’s fair parade. Smiles, laughter, and plenty of Hay Bales and Cow Tails.
Parade results -
Busy Bears - 1st
Willing Workers -2nd
Wood N Post - 1st
Sheriff’s Office - 2nd
Stepping Stones Preschool - 3rd
Horse + Buggy
Hayden Harris -1st
Horse + Rider
Scarlett Hines - 1st
Brandee Garcia - 2nd
Tracy Housholder - 1st
Kathy Johnson - 2nd
Saddle Club - 1st
Golf Cart Calie Green -1st
Valley State Bank - 1st
2024 HM CO., Kansas, US
Ag Queens - 13
TexKan / Ark Valley - 1st
Kris Kerr - 1st
Shawna Kerr- 2nd
Neil Libertus - 3rd
Jillyanne Riley - 1st
Joshua Thompson - 2nd
Sno Shack/Ashlyn Finlay-3rd
The annual Hamilton County Fair Demolition Derby was held Saturday, July 18 at the fairgrounds. Mother Nature could not have delivered a more perfect night for the event with pleasant temperatures and dry conditions.
The Tuesday before the event, the arena was full of water but the show was slated to go on! Event organizer and volunteer Greg Watson works for Scout Energy and they allowed himself, and Derek Godfrey, the use of the gas/oil field tanker truck to suck the rain water out the arena and pit area.
Truck driver Asuncion Reyes assisted, sucking roughly two truckloads of water, equivalent to approximately 10,000 gallons. “Water was eight inches deep in places,” said Watson.
Scout allows their employees one day to volunteer and give back to their community, calling it “Scout Gives Back”. Watson takes his day to prepare the derby arena and prepare for the show, dragging the arena, rebuilding the berm, moving dumpsters, making sure everything is prepared and in order.
The Derby is a popular event with members of the community, with over 1,000 spectators in attendance. Waiting for the event to start, attendees could enjoy “Midway” like food and refreshments from the food trucks and the Saddle Club concession stand.
Vying for the cash prizes were 32 cars and pickups from Syracuse and southwest Kansas.This was a normal number of entries for the event. According to Watson, “It really depends on harvest whether numbers are up or down.”
There was $9,025 in prize money for four different classes, women’s full size, compact, men’s full size and pickups. Adding to the evening’s festivities, there were three battery operated power wheels “smashing it up”. From Syracuse, Joslyn Rivas took third place who showed sign of disappointment when her power wheels lost power.
The top three in each class were Women’s Only: Tara Watson, Melissa Wilson, and Reagan (Wilson) Lozar. Compact: Taylor Jones, Eric Smith and KC Giancola. Men’s Full Size, Ben Stultz, Austin Wilson, and Payson Hawkins.
Additional cash prizes included $50 for the person who smashes the watermelon after they are lined up around the arena, when the green flag is waved. Winners were Compact: Gunnar Upson, Truck, Cory Cook, Fullsize, Payson Hawkins.
The MADDOG prize of $400, paid out in multiple classes, goes to the most aggressive driver. “The one who is putting on the show, the person has no regard for what their car looks like after the derby. They just go out to put a lickin’ on everyone who gets in their way,” explained Watson. Winners were: Compact, Gunnar Upson, Truck, George Huser, and Fullsize, Payson Hawkins
Watson has competed in derbies for over 20 years, “It’s my passion! After about eleven years the show was going away, the fair board was almost ready to do away with the event due to the cost,” he said, “I asked if I could come to talk to the board and I told them I would volunteer to put on the event for two to three years and here we are!”
The Watson family has volunteered for over 10 years. “I go to the fair board meeting to schedule the event, and then we begin organizing the event,” said Watson, “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
Watson said there are not many left in this area and the reason is communities must pay promoters, mainly for the insurance, to put on the event. “What makes Syracuse derby work is the fair board pays for a supplemental policy during the fair, thus insuring the derby,” explained Watson.
“We are very fortunate in this community that we have people who are willing to volunteer to help put the derby on and local businesses for monetary donations and prizes. If it wasn’t for those people, my family, fire department, ambulance, fair board members, it would no longer happen, and their only pay is a thank you from me and a tee shirt,” said Watson.
“One unique thing this year was a women’s only class. In year’s past we had a powderpuff and they would hope one of the men’s cars was runnable after they get done running,” said Watson, “We’re trying to get the ladies involved, there’ a bunch of women that want to run and are really good at what they do and they put on a pretty good show this year!”
Watson hopes to compete and win in Syracuse before he gets too old, “I’ll have to get someone to run it for me!” In the meantime, his wife, Tara, has taken to the driver’s seat competing in and winning the women’s class on Saturday.
“My wife has it figured out!” said Watson, “I ran that car two years ago and won at Holly, after I ran it, she drove the car in the powder puff, only making two hits before it broke down.”
With a little bit of work, the car was in the arena. After being pushed up on the berm, with a little patience, she was able to drive off! “She watched enough she knew what to do and after that, she totally changed, going from defense to offense and made some good hits.”
The derby car family has an unusual comradery. Watson explains there is a culture, a way of life. “People can hate each other while they’re racing in the arena, but after the race, they’re hugging shaking hands and happy, they are friends again.”
Watson felt it was a fantastic show. “For this to continue it takes volunteers and participation so if anyone knows someone who wants to participate in the sport, get them coming our way.”
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