Lind Combine Derby
Every June, thousands flock to Lind, a town of 571 souls, in Eastern Washington for the Combine Demolition Derby. It all began in 1988, during the preparations for the Centennial celebration when the Lind Lions Club were looking to add another event to the annual rodeo. It is a 3-day event that starts on Friday afternoon with terrifyingly loud wrecks of metal - cars, and trucks - speeding through the arena while smashing into concrete barriers and one another, occasionally ending up on their roofs. The Grand Parade kicks off the next day. Combines, police cars, fire trucks, an occasional classic car, the rodeo queen riding the horse, local and county officials, and even a GOP Adams County treasurer in her convertible Mercedes Benz, all roll through the main thoroughfare tossing candy to the kids who are thusly warming up for their kiddie parade. Using one of the few opportunities available, the only bar in town serves $10 burgers. Those who know better leave the parade early and get in line for the BBQ served in the park. With their bellies full, the crowd moves on to the arena for a day of deafening noise sprinkled with alcohol.
Cars, trucks, and grain trucks race through the arena while a flagger, a poor fella named Dick Hemore, always wearing an orange or pink suit, runs through the maze of old combine tires trying to stay alive. He's almost been struck several times through his long career flagging cars in small towns all across Eastern Washington. The biggest event starts mid-afternoon with the first heat of combines. Cody Bennet adds a beer and some rye whiskey into his gas tank for added strength. These monsters of machines position themselves close to the edge of the arena, throttle up their engines until they're engulfed in black smoke, then hurl themselves into each other. I reckon many disputes get settled here. Minutes later, disabled combines, broken off wheels, and axles litter the arena. The arena gets cleared, and those not damaged beyond repair get fixed for the next heat. Between the heats, the crowd is entertained by more loud cars and trucks. And more beer. Then heat two. Destroy, clean up, fix. The survivors, remaining combines, fight it until the end. It is after this fight that the party begins. The beer garden gets full and the band starts playing. By 10 AM the following morning, a sign announcing the next year's derby is installed at the entrance.