It’s the annual agricultural fair this weekend. My village doubles, and sometimes even triples in size for three days of sheep shearing, horse and tractor pulls and, of course, the demolition derby.
I’ve only ever gone twice mostly because I hate running into most of the people I know. Tonight is the demolition derby, and I can hear the cars going at each other from my apartment. Twenty, even fifteen years ago the cars were still made mostly with steel. But they’re all gone now so the derby’s are mostly made up of 90’s mid-sized plastic cars.
Years ago, like back in 1987 and 88, we’d get more than 3,000 people come to town just for the Derby, which is the population of my village plus a whole lot. I did a photo essay on it for college. The organizers set up a ring of huge cement blocks, then a fence about twenty feet further out so the cars don’t careen into the crowd.
The firemen let me inside the fence to take my shots, but at one point I was actually inside the concrete… I did get an A, so totally worth the risk.
Tonight is as loud as it ever gets in this region. There are usually about fifty or more cars. Each one with the exhaust system, electronics and backseat pulled out. But it’s not just the cars, it’s the kids. The parents set their kids loose in the fairgrounds, then the kids take off up into town where there’s always the same kind of teen mating ritual where packs of boys and girls collide outside the convenience store.
But that’s cool. I like listening to sounds of people doing stuff. Sometimes, when there’s an event like this, I’ll go out and just walk through the crowd… there are actually a lot of large events in this town.
The main problem with this weekend, really the only problem, is at 1:30am when the bars start emptying. Early this morning, like 3am, there were four police cars parked on main street making sure no one did anything stupid. Two years ago there was a decent brawl on main street, apparently it was a Carny versus Local thing.
I spent this morning and part of the afternoon working with my step-father. He owns a rental property beside his moms place and the neighbour was being an ass, so my step-father erected a six-foot tall fence between the properties.
Years ago when my step-father’s uncle Edward owned the property the neighbour convinced Edward to sell him a four-foot wide, one hundred-foot long strip of property for next to nothing. My step-father never forgot that. So when we put in the fence he had the local whoever come over and map out the property lines. Ends up the rental property actually extends about two feet into the neighbours driveway, so with the fence where it is the neighbour won’t be able to park a moped in the space that’s left.
Of course I forgot to put on sunscreen so now my neck is a bright, throbbing red sunburn. Totally worth it though, I really enjoy working with my step-father on these projects. He’s an architect so everything gets done properly. Plus he doesn’t talk a lot when we’re working… I’ve never been big on the workplace talkers.
And I finally picked up a bike. I still have to buy a decent lock, a lot of bikes get stolen around here, but I am the proud owner of a second-hand Rocky Mountain eighteen-speed with road tires. It’s green. I took it out for a quick ride last night and apparently it really is hard to forget how to do it.
I haven’t owned a bike since I was seventeen. Back then I used to go on week long bike-hikes during the summer. We’d start in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, then down through Vermont and New Hampshire before coming back. My bike was a ten-speed tank. I had the front and back racks, plus the handlebar thing so I’d get the most crap to carry. Which was fine, it probably added another 10mph to my downhill speed.
Once you get into the States down there it’s mostly logging roads. So, slow up and fast down. My friend Randy had a speedometer and from what I can remember we were getting into the mid-40’s. We’d have to take the corners in the other lane, and when it was raining I’d spend the entire trip down thinking I was going to die. Awesome.
I’m hoping the bike will help me drop ten or fifteen pounds, because sitting around playing video games and eating Chinese food just isn’t working out as well as I thought it would.