BARRHEAD - Despite some challenges with online ticket sales and fewer car entries than expected, the 2022 Barrhead Demolition Derby proved to be “a huge success as per usual,” according to head organizer Ashley Mast.
As with previous years, a huge crowd packed the stands at the Barrhead Agricultural Society grounds on July 23 to watch four heats of trucks and one heat of cars smash and crash into each other in the ring.
Notably, only one car and one truck registered the day of the derby, as most drivers pre-registered ahead of time for the event.
While the number of trucks was the same as other years, the number of cars was lower than hoped.
“The cars have always been a little bit lax in comparison to the trucks. It’s been like that for years,” Mast said, noting that it is getting harder to find the right car models that can be entered in the derby.
In spite of the lower car entries, the derby still lasted four and a half hours, and more heats would have just dragged that out.
“If we had another four heats, we would have been there until 11 p.m.,” Mast said.
In terms of the action in the ring, this year saw a couple of rollovers that necessitated intervention by firefighters and/or heavy equipment. Luckily no one was hurt, Mast indicated.
“I’m sure the contestants were a little sore the next day, but thankfully no serious injuries that I’m aware of!”
Although the stands were seemingly packed, Mast noted that in terms of audience numbers, attendance was down a little from other years and they had to turn away some potential attendees due to AGLC (Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis) and fire code restrictions.
If there’s one thing Mast said she would like to revisit with future demo derbies, it’s the online ticket sales, which left out folks without Internet access.
“It is definitely something that the Ag Society would like to revisit to make it fair for everybody,” she said.
“But I don’t think (the slightly lower attendance) made for a lesser show. The stands were still full and everyone still had a really good time.”
Another big difference with this year’s event was that the derby was held separate from Blue Heron Fair Days, which will be hosted on the Aug. 13-14 weekend.
While the decision is ultimately up to the Barrhead Ag Society and depends on factors like availability of volunteers, Mast hopes that the derby will continue as a separate event, as it works out better for the drivers and many audience members.
“From a parent’s perspective, it was nice that my kids could go home at a decent hour,” she said.
On a positive note, Mast said she received a lot of compliments regarding the lawnmower races, which were put on by a group from Fort Assiniboine.
As well, the 50/50 draw was able to raise more than $9,000 gross for the Mast Children’s Trust Fund, which was established following the passing of Ashley’s husband Marlo, who was a fixture at the derby.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to our family, friends, community and the Ag Society for their support during this difficult time. It truly takes a village,” she said.
On a final note, Mast thanked the community for continuing to support the derby, noting that it takes a lot of sponsors and volunteers to make the event happen.
“It’s the biggest event in Barrhead and it wouldn’t be a success without our community being involved,” she said.
Further results from the derby are as follows:
In the car finals, Jesse Ross placed first, Dylan Boutin was second, Jerrit Dancocks was third and Greg Petruchik finished fourth. Petruchik also won the grudge match.
In the truck finals, Carsyn Ross (who was 17 years old) finished first. Val Leifso finished second, Joe Johnston was third and Michael Driessen was fourth. The grudge match was won by Mandi Coleridge.
The Marlo Mast Memorial Award, which went to an individual who helped out his fellow competitors and also volunteered to help make the derby a success, was presented to Edwin VanGelder. It was sponsored by RME, TNA Welding and Kulak’s Industrial.