×

Westhampton bests field in school bus bash

  • Westhampton school parent Walter Morrey, center, celebrates his win Sept. 4, 2017 following the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Vehicular fluid shoots out of the Easthampton bus following a collision Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Criminal justice teacher Kristen Tirado talks about her experience driving the Smith Vocational bus Sept. 4, 2017 in the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hopkins Academy bus, at right, collides with other busses Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Westhampton, left, and Williamsburg busses collide Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Principal Andrew Berrios talks about his experience driving the Smith Academy bus Sept. 4, 2017 in the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hopkins Academy, left, and Westhampton busses sustain damage Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Westhampton school parent Walter Morrey reacts Sept. 4, 2017 to driving the winning bus in the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Westhampton bus, driven by school parent Walter Morrey, at right, collides with other buses Monday during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hampshire Regional bus, at left, collides with another bus Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hampshire Regional bus is crushed at the side and rear Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Leeds Elementary bus, at right, collides with another bus Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Roger Piekarski, who drove the Hampshire Regional bus, picks up debris from school busses Sept. 4, 2017 following the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Dillon Chevrolet, left, and Hopkins Academy busses collide Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • From left, Westhampton, Hopkins Academy and Smith Academy busses collide Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Westhampton school parent Walter Morrey, above, reacts after his win Monday in the school bus demolition derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. Below, criminal justice teacher Kristen Tirado talks about her experience driving the Smith Vocational bus. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hampshire Regional bus, right, emits black smoke after slamming into various buses during the school bus demolition derby Monday at the Three County Fair in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Principal Andrew Berrios drives the Smith Academy bus Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton.

  • The Westhampton, left, and Hampshire Regional busses collide Sept. 4, 2017 during the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton.



@dustyc123
Monday, September 04, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — After torrential rain forced the Three County Fair to shut down early on Sunday, it was torrents of shattered glass, twisted metal and mists of unknown vehicular liquids that rained down on the grounds Monday as a packed house gathered to watch the second round of the fair’s school bus demolition derby.

Around 35,000 attended the four-day fair, which this year celebrated its 200th anniversary, according to general manager Bruce Shallcross. Hardly a soul braved the rain on Sunday, and officials ultimately called it a day for safety reasons. But crews were back at the fairgrounds early Monday morning, Shallcross said, using squeegees to dry up puddles ahead of a busy Monday when tickets from both days were honored.

“We’re not going to set a record this year, but I think we’ll do pretty well,” Shallcross said of the rain’s effect on overall attendance. Final attendance numbers for Monday were not available early in the evening.

Hundreds watched the school bus carnage from a sold-out grandstand, with many more spilling out onto the surrounding lawn to get a view as the buses tore across the muddy field on the fair’s last day.

It was ultimately Westhampton Elementary School that prevailed, with school parent Walter Morrey driving the teal and dark-blue bus to victory, steaming radiator and all.

“I was just happy I wasn’t the first bus out,” Morrey said, seemingly in disbelief over his victory. As to whether he was feeling the physical effects of repeated crashes, he said, “Right now, no. In the morning we’ll see.”

The Westhampton bus was leaking fuel from the minute the buses lined up, making it seem like an underdog. But the fuel line was tied on with a shoelace, which held tight as the bus was pummeled from all directions.

“That was my good-luck charm,” Morrey joked, pointing out the shoelace still tied on.

For winning first place, Westhampton Elementary School will receive $1,000, which as a parent thrilled Morrey.

“It will go far, especially with school budgets nowadays,” he said. “I was just trying to do my best for the school.”

Smith Academy Principal Andrew Berrios, who drove for his second year in a row, looked like his adrenaline was still pumping after leaving the arena, his school bus destroyed and immobile. He thanked the Three County Fair for hosting such a great fundraiser for local schools.

“It’s fun,” he said of the event. “There’s no insurance in there, nobody’s at fault.”

Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School criminal justice teacher Kristen Tirado was the only woman competing in Monday’s bus derby, delivering fierce blows before finally bowing out of what she said was her first and last demolition derby.

“It’s a young person’s game,” she quipped.

One of the young people in attendance was 16-year-old Kirahjah Sutherland of Chicopee. She was there to watch her uncle compete in the regular demolition derby later in the day.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I want to do it next year.”

This year’s fair was devoid of any major incidents, according to Northampton police. Last year, the fair was marred by the news that a Shriner clown’s golf cart was stolen. Police later found the wrecked golf cart in a Hadley meadow, and a group of Smith Vocational students fixed it up over the course of two months.

The only major issue at this year’s fair, Shallcross said, were the puddles on Sunday, which caused an early shutdown because of safety concerns with electrical wires.

“I think everyone had a good time, and for a 200th fair it went pretty well,” Shallcross said, adding that he expected the fair to still make a profit despite the lost day.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.