By S.L. Furedi
Fire up your engines, drivers, because the annual Fernie Lions’ Demolition Derby is on the move.
The move will take the popular event to 1800 Railway Ave., also known as the old Hutchinson property, on the opposite side of the Fernie Golf and Country Club from the rodeo grounds. Trico Homes, the property owner, has allowed the Lions to use the 30-acre piece of land.
“It’s very generous of them,” says Lions’ President Rick Ganter. “It’s an extensive bit of land, so we’ll have more parking, and just more room to work. We’ve already moved our concession shack over, built a new announcer’s booth, and hopefully we’ll move and renovate most of the bleachers, as well. I think it’ll be good, because we can put it together how we want it, and start with a clean slate.”
After 20 years at the Fernie Rodeo Grounds, the derby had to find a new home, because the property has been sold for development.
“It’s not the first time we’ve had to move in our more than 30-year history,” says Ganter. “We started out in Hosmer, and we’ve been down Coal Creek Road. It’s been a good location at the rodeo grounds for a lot of years, but it’s time to start fresh.”
Ganter says he would like the event to remain in the new location for at least five years, but he knows that may not happen.
“We would, ideally, like to see the City of Fernie invest in a permanent outdoor arena area for events like this. It could be used by numerous groups or to bring in large-scale concerts, sports events, that kind of thing. I really think it’s something this community needs, and is sadly lacking. I know a lot of community groups are backing this idea, and Fernie City Council is open to the idea.”
The demolition derby takes place Sunday, September 2. The event is the Lions Club’s major fundraiser for the year, with all funds raised staying in the community. Over the years, the club estimates it has raised approximately half-a-million dollars through the derby, and uses the funds to support youth sports, seniors, the handicapped and others in need in Fernie.
The derby gates open at 10:30 a.m. with the first heat starting at noon. A concession and refreshment garden will be on site. Entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Children under 10 get in free.
Cars must be registered by Friday, August 31 at Backyard Auto in Fernie. Entry fee is $100 per car for the main heat, $50 for trucks and small cars, and there is a late penalty for cars registering after that, or on the day of the derby, so Ganter advises drivers to get their forms in fast. For more information, or to register, contact Tom Murdoch at 250-423-3052.
Also, for updates and information about the derby, check out the Fernie Lions Demolition Derby page on Facebook.