CROWN POINT – While fairgoers loaded up for the last time Sunday on corn dogs, elephant ears, donut-fried Oreo cookies and frozen chocolate-dipped Twinkies, the Lake Country Fairgrounds main grandstand loaded up with spectators for the second night of the International Demolition Derby.
The derby, held on Saturday and Sunday evenings, closed out the 2018 fair with contests between four, six, and eight-cylinder cars, vans, trucks and even riding lawn mowers. The annual competition is a mainstay not only in Lake County, but also at the LaPorte County Fair.
The demolition derby itself became popular at fairs, race tracks and speedways during the 1950s, but date all the way back to the era of the Model T. Lake County fair’s derby track, next to Fancher Lake on the south side of the fairgrounds, hosted competitors of all ages, from youngsters to commercial-sponsored competitors like J. Lee Motorsports of Chesterton.
Sunday’s competition kicked off with audience members asked to pick their favorite out of three distinctive vehicles – a red, white and blue lawn mower, a blue green car and a pink and white truck -- on the track not to compete but to look good. Mike Marlowe’s blue green car, 777, was chosen as the crowd’s favorite.
Competition began in earnest when safety-helmeted youngsters took to the track in vehicles decorated in almost every color, including pink. The aim of any demolition derby is to be the last driver driving in the last vehicle operational, and the 14 young contestants gamely ran into one another in time-honored derby fashion. However, their turn on the derby track was timed, and referees on the track tallied up points in order to pick the winners.
In finishing up Sunday, the Lake County Fair successfully observed its 166th year. The Lake County Agricultural Society started the fair in 1852 was a way to showcase the county’s agriculture. Farms and farming are still part of the theme, but 2018 fair also featured a carnival, entertainment, grandstand and animal shows, good and a petting zoo.