MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. - In addition to entertainment, food, carnival rides and other attractions, one of the big draws each year at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition is the track events.
Through the week, the mud bog, all-terrain vehicle drag racing and truck and tractor pulls have drawn hundreds of spectators and dozens of participants eager to show the mettle of their machines in the track area at the fairgrounds on Butcher Bend Road.
Jenny Lewis, track events coordinator for the fair board, said about 150 truck and Jeep owners were signed up to participate in a second night of mud bogging Friday night, while ATV riders of all ages were racing in pairs at the ATV track.
JEFF?BAUGHAN Special to the Times
Malissa Tankersley blasts away from the starting line Friday evening during the mud bogs races at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
"The track events are a very popular draw to the fair itself. We have people who are die-hards, especially these mud bog nights" which in the past have run into the following morning, she said.
Tim Bennett of St. Marys participated in Friday's mud bog in a truck he built for that type of event. After years of watching others compete, he has been bringing his truck to the fair for the past three years. He also travels around the region to mud bog events during the year, usually competing in about 15 each season.
"It's just something I wanted to do... just playing in the mud," Bennett said.
Just around the hillside from the mud bog, the roar of truck engines was mixed with the growl of ATVs zooming down a dirt track of their own.
Brian Schott, one of the ATV drag race organizers, said the ATV races have been part of the fair for about 20 years and have continued to grow in popularity to the point where they were split among two nights. Friday saw additional ATVs ready to race because of Tuesday night's rain which canceled that night's races, he said.
"We get a real good crowd turnout. This is our largest event of the year, and they come out of the woodwork for this event here at the fair," he said.
The track events evolve to meet the needs and interests of spectators and participants. Lewis said a downturn in the past few years in demolition derby participation caused organizers to try a new event, a Tuff Truck competition, which is basically an obstacle course for street trucks.
Originally scheduled for Tuesday night, the Tuff Truck event was rescheduled due to rain for 10 a.m. Saturday. Other track events scheduled for Saturday are the tractor pulls at 1 p.m. and the truck pulls at 7 p.m.
Other highlights of the Saturday schedule include horseshoe pitching at 10:30 a.m., arm wrestling at 1 p.m., the Junior Livestock Sale at 2, South of the River Band at 7 and the Bucky Covington concert at 8:30.