UNION — Generally, drivers of motor vehicles look to avoid crashes. On the flip side, those at the wheel of demolition derby cars, trucks and vans seek collisions. In their cases, more is more and bigger and badder is better.

Thus was the scenario on the final day at the Maine Wild Blueberry Festival on Sunday night, July 31 for the lone demo derby of this year’s Union Fair.

When all was said and done, it again was survival of the fittest.

Alvin Peabody of Waldoboro. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Fenders, hoods and bumpers had no chance. Metal was creased and crunched beyond recognition. There was lots of jolting and jostling. Essentially, vehicles were turned into a crumpled mess and, often, a pile of junk.

In many cases, smoke bellowed from under hoods of disabled vehicles.

The spinning of tires and spitting of gravel was the norm.

The vehicles had numbers and interesting — and unique — messages painted on them.

Andrew Arlen of Clinton, Iowa. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

One message declared: “Hit me, I like it.”

Thus was another night at the popular demolition derby.

While this year’s event, witnessed, as always, by a large, enthusiastic crowd, was pushed back an hour — from 7 to 8 p.m. — due to the amount of traffic coming into the fairgrounds, the action was, by most standards, hard-hitting and intense. The derby began in daylight and ended in darkness.

When the crashing and banging had finished, Chris Woodard of Solon was the 4-cylinder feature winner and Brady Clark of Hope the 6-cylinder feature winner, as well as raffle winner.

Caleb Leland of Warren. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

In the past, there were two nights of derby action at the Union Fair, but that was cut in half this year.

The event was held in memory of Allen Jackson, a longtime derby fan, who passed away in June.

According to the fair website, the demo derby is an event for all ages, “from the little ones to grandparents and great grandparents. Generations of people have enjoyed the demolition derby and it is one of the highest attended events of the week. We will crash anything from mini vans, to small trucks, to 4-cylinder cars. When organizing the event there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a smile on a little boy’s face when the first big ‘crash’ occurs, dirt starts flying all over the ring, and we start to see smoke billow from under the hoods of vehicles. It is especially exciting when a vehicle catches on fire and the fire department comes in and puts it out, or when a car tries to go up over the interior wall of the ring.”

Automobiles enjoy the fray. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

The demo derby’s volunteers in 2022 included: Renee, Jason, Morgan and Andrew Flanders; Allison and Jacolby Leavitt and family; Kevin Sabins; Eric Reed; Ryan Soule; Adam Richardson; Gary Grant; and Ashley Elwell. Also involved were Union Fire and Emergency Medical Services and the event sponsor was Wayne Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Sales and Rental.

The Maine Wild Blueberry Festival and Union Fair is an annual agricultural fair. It began in 1869 and, since 1886, fairs in Knox County have taken place in Union. No fair was held in 1917–18, 1942–45 or 2020 (due to the pandemic).

This year’s Union Fair, traditionally held later in August, was moved ahead this summer to Wednesday through Sunday, July 27-31.

Tires spinning and dirt flying. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

The drivers in each division, in no particular order, were:

4-cylinder

Feature — Chris Woodard, Solon, winner; Garrett Crabtree, Hope, runner-up; Andrew Arlen, Clinton, Iowa; Jayden Day, Appleton; Joe Young, Warren; and Mandi Johnson, Gardiner. Johnson also was recognized as best in show.

Heat 1 — Garrett Crabtree, Hope, winner; Jonathan Oakes, Appleton, runner-up; Alvin Peabody, Waldoboro, Andrew Arlen, Clinton, Iowa; Mandi Johnson, Gardiner; Amber Flanders, Rockland; and Joe Young, Warren. Flanders has participated in the event 20 years, Peabody 12 and Young 10.

Heat 2 — Chris Woodard, Solon, winner; Caleb Leland, Warren, runner-up; Michael Crochere, Chelsea; Colby Brown, Washington; Sawyer Hewson, Waldoboro; and Jared Drown, Union. It was the fifth year in the competition for Drown.

Jonathan Oakes of Appleton. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

6-cylinder

Feature — Brady Clark, Hope, feature and raffle winner; Sully Tibbetts, Appleton, runner-up; Ben Lufkin, Warren; Joshua MacDougall, Warren; Hunter Baughman, Nobleboro; Jason Baughman, Nobleboro; and Jayden Day, Union.

Heat 1 — John MacKenzie, Wiscasset, winner; Michael Lindsey, Union; Matt Jackson, Hope, Joshua MacDougall, Warren; Lance Bernett, Waldoboro; Jacob Weston, Washinton; and Sully Tibbetts, Appleton. Lindsey has competed in the even 10 years.

Heat 2 — Jason Baughman, Nobleboro, winner; Hunter Baughman, Nobleboro; Ben Lufkin, Warren; Jared Mank, Warren; Jayden Day, Union; Conrad Tarr, Turner; Michael Phillips, Turner; and Bill McKusic, Friendship. McKusic has competed in the event 20 years and Mank 10.

Other categories

Mini Vans/Sport Utility Vehicle — Zach Robbins, Cushing, winner; Brandon Lee, Tenants Harbor, runner-up; Jared Mank, Warren; Daggin McKusic, Frienship; and Silas Nadeau, Warren. Robbins has competed in the event 16 years and Mank and McKusic 10.

Trucks — Ben Porter, Warren, winner; Isaiah Eugley, Warren, runner-up; Madison Young, Vinalhaven; and Corey Spear, Rockland. Porter has competed in the event 16 years.

Children’s derby — 1, Nash Plaisted, age 5, South China; 2, Grayson Cutler, 5, Washington; and 3, Gunnar Smith, 7, Washington. Also participating were: Theo Butler, 6, Hope; and J. Anson Horton, 4, Montville.