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Burnet Demolition Derby fundraiser a 'blast'

Competition will be fierce and loud at the Demolition Derby on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Burnet County Rodeo Grounds. The event is the Burnet County Rodeo Association’s only fundraiser this year, and it’s a big one. File photo

The Demolition Derby is back in Burnet on Saturday, Oct. 17. The action begins at 5 p.m. in the Burnet County rodeo arena, 1301 Houston Clinton Drive. Gates open at 3 p.m.

“Everybody loves a good wreck,” said Brent Nichols, vice president of the Burnet County Rodeo Association, adding that demolition derbies draw a bigger crowd than the group’s annual rodeo, which had to be canceled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s suped-up bumper cars,” Nichols continued. “And we’ve got 35 to 40 cars coming. It’s going to be a blast.”

Nichols called it the cheapest and best entertainment around, all the better this year because so many other derbies across the country have been canceled. Competitors are coming from as far away as Las Vegas and Illinois to vie for three purses in two events. First place in the compact and full-size divisions each receive $1,500. Second-place winners get $1,000, and third place takes home $500.

Admission for spectators is $15 for ages 10 and older, $5 for ages 6-9, and free for ages 5 and younger.

As one of only two fundraisers a year for the rodeo association, which donates use of its facilities to 4-H and FFA clubs, schools, and law enforcement, a lot is riding on this derby.

“We are down to stalks and stems in our bank account, and we have the stock show coming up, which we pay for,” Nichols said. “We had to cancel the rodeo in the spring, and the derby, which usually happens during the Bluebonnet Festival, in April.”

The January livestock show and next year’s rodeo are a go “if everything stays like it is now” as far as COVID-19 is concerned, Nichols added.

“We’ll be just fine,” he said, noting the safety precautions in place and the regulations that they will be following at the derby. “Three hundred masks were donated, so if you don’t have one, we can provide.”

Nine hand sanitizing stations will be set up and social distancing regulations will be followed.

Cars also follow safety standards as drivers fight to be the last one rolling. Heats usually contain five to six cars each. The cars back up to the fence around the arena waiting for the starting signal to begin the wreckage. Winners in each heat move on to the finals.

“I love a good rodeo,” Nichols said, “but I can get more people to a demolition derby. It’s a lot of fun.”

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