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

First recreational cannabis store in Okanagan has quiet opening near Lake Country

Indigenous Bloom has opened on Okanagan Indian Band land

New Lake Country school sports fields to include track and field oval

School rec facilities to be developed on former Aspen Grove golf course

Hail the mighty Caesar: Kelowna Caesar creators expand their shop

Simp’s Serious Syrups has opened a store on High Road

Freezing rain, some snow forecasted for Okanagan-Similkameen-Shuswap

Environment Canada forecasting freezing rain and snow for much of the region

Rockets stumble again, lose 6th straight to Moose Jaw Warriors

The Rockets will have to bounce back with weekend games against the top two teams in the league

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Former welfare clients still owed money, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Investigation found 2,600 people docked illegally for earning income

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Most Read