Thursday, October 18, 2012

Variations in Culture: Part II

As previously stated, recently Doug and I had a weekend full of culture. We dined out for peace and the next night went to a classy play at the University.  The night after THAT we went the opposite direction in terms of culture: we went to the Demolition Derby.

I forget how the idea even arose.  I think we had just sat down to dinner one night (at our classy dining table) when Doug said off-handedly, "I saw an ad for the demolition derby on TV."  I was immediately intrigued, as I've never been to a demolition derby, and it seemed an excellent opportunity for people watching and exploring local culture.  I was 100% sold when I found out it was held at the Rodeo of the Ozarks and called "The Big Smash in Springdale."

I readily admit that we fully intended on going to the Demolition Derby from a snobbery perspective.  I figured it would be stupid, perhaps attended by overall-clad, long-bearded individuals with missing teeth (note: although a stereotype, we have seen many a folk fitting this description since moving to town), and my overall intent was to make fun of it.  But if I might skip right to the end for a second, Doug and I both had a blast and we are already planning to go again in May, next time without the pretentious snobbery attitudes born from elitism and enjoyment of judgment.  Never you fear, those attitudes will still come out in other situations, but no longer at the Derby!

The night of the Derby, a cold front was passing through Walmart Country, such that it was about 40 degrees out.  Perhaps cooler.  Now, we were born and bred in the northlands and are no stranger to cold weather, but it was a stark contrast to the 75 degree weather we'd had two days prior.  So, we did what our growing Arkansonian roots prompted us to do: we put on our JCPenny-bought Arkansas sweatshirts, jeans, and the red knit Hog hats my mom made us last year (mine makes me look like Pippi Longstocking, with long side "braids" and Doug's says "Go Hogs!" around the brim), grabbed one of our slankets (the superior-to-a-Snuggie blanket-with-arms) and headed off to the Rodeo grounds.

It started off a little shaky for us, with a full on star-spangled banner and some kind of prayer that I've already blocked out of my mind.  But once the cars started to roll out, the fun began.  Now, I should also note that I couldn't understand half of what the announcer was saying, so I'm not sure I really understand the rules or the purpose of the derby.  All I gleaned was that 8-9 old crappy cars, decorated and painted in any-which-way (pink, jack-o-lantern!, names painted across the back) come out at once, facing the outside, like this:

Then, when the horn sounds, they back up as fast as they can, possibly hitting another car, and turn around so that they can hit other cars full on.  It's like real car bumper cars!  They drive around smashing into one another!  A car is "out" when (a) it gets dug into the dirt such that the wheels spin and it can't move, (b) it gets somehow pinned and it can't move, or (c) someone smashes it enough that it actually stops running.  So basically a car is out when it can't move anymore, at which point the driver takes the orange flag off the car and resigns himself to a life of failure.  The round continues until there are three cars left.  Then those cars that can still move drive off, and the others are towed off by tractors.  So awesome. Check this out:


We did not stay for the final rounds when the cars came back out to battle for the final $3000 prize. It was far too cold for that.  We did, however, catch the awesome "mini" round which was compact cars like corollas and civics and such.  Those guys only had one round and they just went for it, smashing into each other with far more zest and gusto than the larger cars (who I assume were conserving some power/energy for the finals).  It was so much fun!!

In between rounds we walked around the grounds and bought hot chocolate, people watching and observing the small little carnival set up just to the north of the fairgrounds.  Most importantly, we bought Doug a kickin' derby T-shirt, which is an excellent keepsake of our new favorite Walmart Country past-time:

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