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  • Brodie Farquhar

Routt County Fair starts Friday; Much anticipated Demolition Derby could sell out fast

Tickets are on sale for the popular derby and next Saturday's evening concert.

Country-western entertainers come and go, but the real high-performer when it comes to sold-out tickets each year at the Routt County Fair, is the demolition derby, now in its 14th year.

The roar of engines and the crunch of metal on metal is only outdone by the roar of the crowd in Hayden.

This year, the Synergy Petroleum Demolition Derby will be held Friday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for seats in the grandstand are $27 for adults, $12 for kids and zip for little guys that can sit in your lap. For $27, adults can stand in the pit or for $35, the mud zone, where they can get a much, much closer view of the automotive mayhem. Signed liability waivers will be required.

Contestants in the derby generally drive either sedans or pickups – with rear trunks or bed loads used to ram and eventually put a rival out of business when the other vehicle just can't go anymore.

“The winner is the last one rolling,” said Donny Hayes, the Hayden guru of fixing up old wrecks into demolition machines. “You always want to protect the essentials, like the engine, radiator, battery and water pump. And you can never hit the driver-side door.” Other than those basics, contestants go for the gusto.

Sometimes contestants will team up to wear down single contestants and their vehicles, said Hayes. A good pace for collisions is about one every 60 seconds, he added. “It is total chaos, but the crowd loves it,” he said.

Spectators are not likely to see earlier model Chevrolets in the derby. That's because they are built on an X frame, which doesn't last long under repeated assaults, said Hayes. Other manufacturers build cars and pickups on full perimeter frames, which can take a licking and not quit, he added.

“Fourteen years ago, the fair had a demolition derby brought in from out-of-state, Hayes said. “It seem like it was choreographed and wasn't very exciting,” he added.

So he investigated demo derby rules in Montana, adapted them to Colorado, and the local version has been going ever since. “We're the only motorized action north of I-70 and east of the Divide,” said Hayes, “and we've brought in some $300,000 in tax revenues to the county.

He's anticipating about 10 local contestants from the Yampa Valley, and a dozen or more from out of the area on a fund-raiser for Multiple Scelrosis.


Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers country-western concert is Saturday, Aug. 19 at 8:30 p.m. It will be held in the outdoor arena and tickets are $35 a head. The concert and the demolition derby are the only events that are not free to the public. Seating is available in the grandstands and South stands only. Seating is on a first-come, first-service basis. Fans must have a valid email address, so when they purchase tickets a QR code can be emailed prior to the event. Ticket QR codes must be presented and scanned at the admission gate. Fans are encouraged to show up early for their wristbands to avoid long lines.

Williams is a singer-songwriter and former saddle bronc rider. He and fellow Wyoming singer and rodeo cowboys are the only two individuals to compete in the rodeo and perform on the main stage of Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Williams is from the tiny, northeast Wyoming town of Moorcroft. He competed in rodeo in high school, college and as an adult. He has four degrees, two from the University of Wyoming.

Williams will be joined on stage by the Tucker Rose Band. Tucker Rose will appear with Guerin Lewis in a tribute show in memory of Lacey Lewis, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. That show follows the free 4-H Bobby Robinson Sr. Memorial Barbeque, Saturday, Aug. 19 at 3 p.m.

Everything else

There is a printed 2023 Fair Schedule that is 150 pages long, that is available online as well. It has detailed information about just about anything you could imagine, and then some. Similarly, there is an online website about the fair. It too is filled with detailed information about events, demonstrations and exhibits, days and times to get set up, and whether there are any participation fees. The printed schedule is a bit thick to roll up and carry in your back pocket, but if you have a cell phone, you have all the information you need to be on time and have a lot of fun.

Just remember the motto of the 109th Routt County Fair, running August 17-20. “The World Needs More Cowboys.”


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