Three County Fair concludes to sound of crunching metal

  • Bus drivers for the school bus demo derby listen to directions before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • School busses smash into each other during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Northampton Fire Department watches from the sidelines during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Ronald Benedict raises his finger to say he is alright after tipping over during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • School busses smash into each other during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • From left, Nicky Elias-Gillette, Lili Pollard and Calvin Padduck react during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • School busses smash into each other during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Andrew Linkenhoker's bus after the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Officials run out onto the grounds to find out who the winner is during the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • From left, Joe Englehardt, James Bacon, center, and Andy Linkenhoker, right, hold their trophy's after the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Andy Linkenhoker, the principal for Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, puts on his neck guard before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Ronald Benedict, left, and Mike Banner, right, congratulate each other after the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Bus remains after the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Ronald Benedict shows Andrew Berrios the basics of driving a school bus before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. Berrios is the principal of the Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Busses line up before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Josh Hall a former student of Franklin County Tech drives the bus he will later use in a demo derby to the arena before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Drivers wait by their busses before the start of the school bus demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Joe Englehardt takes off an American Flag off his bus before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Joe Englehardt, right, pretends to hit Luke Longstreeth, left, before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Busses wait before the start of the demo derby Monday, Sept. 5, at the Three-County Fair in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2016 9:41:52 PM

NORTHAMPTON — With sunny skies and a variety of events old and new, including the Demolition Cross and School Bus Demolition Derby on Labor Day, the four-day Three County Fair drew more than 40,000 people, general manager Bruce R. Shallcross estimated.

“We had a really good Monday, which helped us out a lot,” Shallcross said, because recently Labor Day had been a slower day for the fair. But the 1 p.m. show for Demolition Cross and the School Bus Demolition Derby was sold out.

A course was set up for the Demolition Cross during which drivers tried to demolish other cars while also going over jumps and tight turns.

“The rules are pretty simple,” the announcer said at the start. “There are none.”

And the School Bus Demolition Derby featured eight buses no longer in service which were sponsored and decorated by a local school or community group.

Northampton radio station WLZX (Hits 94.3 FM) sponsored a small bus to add to the chaos, but it was quickly demolished as large buses backed into each other. One flipped onto its side, but was able to stay in the competition. The last bus running won.

Andy Linkenhoker, 37, the principal of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton, and Andrew Berrios, 35, principal of Smith Academy in Hatfield, each drove a bus painted by their students.

“It’s one of those bucket list items,” Linkenhoker said.

He won third place and said it was an adrenaline rush.

The back of his bus was crushed like an accordion. The hood was gone and fluid was spilling out. “I didn’t realize it was that bad until I got out,” he said.

James Bacon, a mechanic from Williamsburg, was the driver for the winning bus representing the Anne T. Dunphy Elementary School, where his children go to school.

It was his first time in a demolition derby. “It was awesome,” Bacon said.

Ronald Benedict, who drove a bus decorated by Students Against Destructive Decisions, said he has participated in demolition derbies at the fair for two decades. It was the largest Monday crowd he has seen at the fair in eight years, Benedict said.

First place received $1,000, second got $750 and third won $500, according to Shallcross. Every school and group that sponsored a bus received $100 for participating.

Shallcross said the demolished buses will be sold for scrap metal.

“It will be back,” Three County Fair Vice President David A. Murphy said about the school bus demolition derby. “The fans like it. The drivers had a good time … I would call it a success.”

Golf cart stolen

One event that marred the fair was the theft of a Shriner clown’s golf cart between late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Mike Sklarski, 62, of Chicopee, has been a clown for 26 years. For a decade, he has been at the Three County Fair as Beeper the clown who loves the Yankees.

On Friday, he dressed as Beeper and rode around the fairgrounds on his bright yellow golf cart, enjoying the festivities and picking up other clowns who needed a lift.

Sklarski said he has hip and back problems and he cannot walk around the fairgrounds like he used to. His daughter recently bought him the golf cart and he painted it yellow.

Friday night, Sklarski locked his cart up in the arena building which is monitored by security. The next morning, he came back to find it missing.

The Northampton Police Department is investigating.

“I’m not a happy camper,” Sklarski said.

Planning 200th

Fair directors already are planning for the 200th anniversary in 2017.

A kickoff event for the 200th Three County Fair is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at the fairgrounds with music and a barbecue. Tickets are $15.

Shallcross encourages people in the community to share memorabilia of the fair that can be used as part of an exhibit for its 200th anniversary as well as for an upcoming book on the Three County Fair.

Staff writer Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.




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