Vehicles after a demolition derby

The annual demolition derby at Lodi Agricultural Fair draws fans in droves for gritty, roaring fun.

“If you’re up there in the grandstands you might get some mud slung up at you,” said Lodi Demolition Derby Director Kory Ryan. “It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s loud – it’s like nothing else.”

The annual demo derby will return this year with a bang, with a new event called Clash of Businesses that pits rookie drivers against each other.

The Lodi Ag Fair runs from July 6-9 and the demolition derbies are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 7 and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 8, pitting vehicles against each other. The Clash of Businesses is the feature event of the second night.

“In years past it’s been very much individuals against individuals,” Ryan said. “Now we get to have teams.”

Six local businesses are sponsoring the two or three-car teams: LeafGuard Gutters & Roofing of Madison, Lodi Shell, Meade Concrete, JW Property Management, Zack and Cassandra Krebs of Krebs Farms and Ness Auto Sales and Services. 

The demolition derbies are run in connection with Hollywood Motor Sports Entertainment and Ryan said the typical rules of the demolition derby apply: competitors revamp old cars and trucks, usually ones “that have lived out their life on the road” and modify them for safety, for instance, by removing windows and headlights and putting the battery inside the cabin.

And then the drivers go at it, smashing into one another until one victor is still running. In the Clash of Businesses, the last car still running will win on behalf of their team and move on to the next round (though the losing teams will still have a chance to rev their engines back up to compete in a consolation round).

Ryan said years ago, they could expect 60 or 70 cars to compete on the most popular nights.

“Now you’re usually thinking 30, 40-50 max on most of those nights,” Ryan said. “And that’s because there’s not as many people involved in these sports.”

For one, he said, people often have less access to straight body, full-metal cars and the equipment to make them competition-ready.

But at the same time, Ryan said interest in the demolition derby has never wavered. He’s hoping the beginning-friendly Clash of Businesses will draw curious newcomers.

“There always have been businesses that want to get involved,” Ryan said. “And there are a lot of people that want to get involved in this sport, whether it’s turning wrenches or driving cars.”

Veterans social, other highlights

The Lodi Agricultural Fair has always been community-minded, and this year organizers hope to connect people in a new way.

Sunday, July 9, from 12-1:30 p.m. is an “Ice Cream with a Veteran” social that invites veterans, their families and community members to come together.

“I’m sure a lot of people only see these types of folks in their uniform, in a parade, but never really get a chance to talk with them,” Ryan said.

The event takes place in the Free Stage tent and includes music by Susie Franklin.

The fair includes classic exhibits. For instance, the grandstand is open every day with carnival rides. The ever-popular Farmer-for-a-Day tent and butterfly house run on Friday and Saturday, and there are horse-drawn wagon rides and tours of the Old School House on Saturday and Sunday. Lodi EMS bingo runs Thursday and Friday. And the Lodi High School Alumni Softball Tournament begins Thursday and is all day Saturday.

Thursday kicks off the weekend with an old-fashioned horse pull, a dog show and evening karaoke in the beer garden.

Friday is the junior bake-off, beef show, the introduction of the Fairest of the Fair and court and live music by Retro Specz.

Saturday brings many more animal shows, the exhibitor meat auction, a Poynette-Dekorra Fire Department smoke house demonstration, celebrity pie auction and evening music by the Soggy Prairie Boys and Madison County.

And on Sunday, there’s the Master Show Person competition, a youth horse fun day show, music from Gary’s Ridgeland Dutchmen Polka Band and a butterfly house release. A tractor/truck pull finishes off the fair weekend.

See a full schedule at www.lodiagfair.com

This article was edited on July 5 at 1:25 p.m. to correct the name of Ness Auto Sales and Service. 

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