Wheels come off Salmon Arm Demo Derby

27th annual Shuswap event cancelled due to lack of participants, hope remains for next year

Trucks and cars line the streets surrounding the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds. Rock-and-roll blares from speakers, its muffled beat reaching neighbourhoods in the distance. An announcer enthusiastically chronicles the action for the crowds who are cheering in the stands. Dust billows from the arena as, time and time again, metal crunches metal, wheels spin in the dirt, steam hisses and sprays from mangled engines.

These are the sights and sounds of the Salmon Arm Demolition Derby which, for the past 26 years, has entertained thousands of people from Salmon Arm and throughout the Shuswap.

Related: Outlasting the rest

This year, the arena will be silent, the streets empty. The 27th Annual Salmon Arm Demolition Derby has been cancelled, an extremely tough decision for the man responsible for creating the event more than a quarter century ago.

Wes Henry explains that this year the entries just weren’t coming in.

Although the registration deadline was July 31, as of July 27, only four trucks and five cars had entered. Entries have been dwindling every year, he says, but this year they were way too low. Even though a few more were going to enter, there weren’t going to be enough. They need at least 15 cars and 10 trucks to make a go of it.

Last year there were 18 cars, while, back in the day “we used to get 45, 46 cars for the derby.”

Henry explains that a large outlay of money is needed before the derby starts, for insurance, grounds rental, security and more.

“The last thing I want to do on the day of the derby is say it’s cancelled.”

Related: 25th Annual Demo Derby a Hit

Henry, a dedicated community volunteer, started the derby in order to give the Salmon Arm Rescue Unit a dependable source of income.

The rescue unit responds to accidents, bringing the Jaws of Life. It’s strictly volunteers, with some funding from the Provincial Emergency Program. Before the demo derby, it was relying on fundraisers like bake sales and raffle tickets, Henry says.

Despite this year’s cancellation of the derby, he’s planning to try again next year.

“We are going to have to reevaluate and do something a little different, make it happen again next year. There is still one in Armstrong and our hope is we’ll be back next year, without a problem.”

He says the loss of funding for this year will be a big blow to the rescue unit and, if the derby doesn’t fly next year, a new source of income will have to be found.

Henry isn’t sure why the number of people entering is dropping, but he says it’s a trend throughout the province with lots of other derbies shutting down.

Related: 2011 – Demolition derby destruction

One factor could be that cars are getting a little more expensive to buy and work on, he says.

And, “the older generation is starting to retire and the younger generation isn’t stepping up to build the cars. If you look at any organization out there anymore… Curling has gone down, baseball has gone down, it’s just a thing of the times, I think, unfortunately. The younger generation is busy doing what they need to do.”

The decision to cancel the derby has left Henry feeling terrible.

“We’ve been doing it for 26 years. That’s a long time to be doing something and all of a sudden you can’t do it. I feel sad for the fans; we get a lot of fans who come out and watch the derby. It’s too bad for them we can’t do it.”

The question, ‘what will you be doing this year on Aug. 26?’ makes Henry laugh.

“I don’t know. I guess I’ll go to the beach.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Special Public Avalanche Warning for Most Mountainous Regions of BC

Avalanche Canada is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry… Continue reading

Revelstoke developer frustrated with permit delays

Phase 2-3 of Mackenzie Village has been with city staff for 18 months

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past

125 Years Ago: Kootenay Star, December 16, 1893 There were about 200… Continue reading

Avalanche control scheduled today on Highway 1 east and west of Revelstoke

Avalanche control work is scheduled today for two different locations along Highway… Continue reading

Revy let’s talk: Christmas cheer, or not

It’s Christmas time in Revelstoke. It’s a time of celebration, lights are… Continue reading

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

Missing man last seen in Shuswap

Red Deer RCMP would like public’s help locating elderly man with dementia last observed in Sicamous

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Sex-assault squad investigated eight incidents at Toronto all-boys’ school

The interim president of a Roman Catholic all-boys school rocked by student-on-student abuse allegations said the football program was cancelled for next year.

Most Read