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West Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department holds demolition derby

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WEST POTSDAM — Engines revving, metal crashing and spectators’ cheers filled the ears of a large crowd at the West Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department’s annual field day on Sunday.

The Fire Department’s demolition derby attracted drivers and spectators from all over St. Lawrence County, including volunteers from other fire departments. All proceeds went to the West Potsdam department.

“This event helps us raise money so we can buy equipment and keep the community protected,” said Jerry A. Dibble, West Potsdam’s first assistant chief. “It’s one of the big events of the year that we do. These guys out here put a lot of time and hard work into these cars.”

Mr. Dibble said drivers must be at least 18 years old to drive in the derby, with the fee per car set at $25.

Joseph L. Foster, West Stockholm, who has been driving in demolition derbies in the area for 14 years, owned three of the cars in competition Sunday. He said he drives in this derby every year, but that this year, there weren’t as many cars competing.

“The cost of cars is hurting it,” Mr. Foster said. “To buy a small car costs $300, so people can’t buy as many as they used to.”

Dustin J. Green, Colton, who has been driving in derbies for 15 years, drove a 1996 Cadillac Eldorado on Sunday. He also said he wished more cars had been entered.

“The more cars we can get here, the better it is for the Fire Department,” Mr. Green said. “When I first started, you could buy a car for $25, but now we’re spending $600 to $800 on them, and there’s not as many to find as there used to be.”

With the price of cars increasing, some drivers try to get as much out of their vehicles as possible.

Brian P. Propheter, Felts Mills, is the owner of a purple 1999 Dodge Stratus that had been through four derbies prior to Sunday.

“It won for ‘best in paint’ in Watertown last year,” said Chris M. Boyle, Ogdensburg, driver of Mr. Propheter’s car. “We named it ‘Shrek.’”

Mr. Propheter said that Sunday was the last race for the car, which he is donating to the Felts Mills Fire Department for training.

Chad E. Swinyer, Lisbon, has been driving in demolition derbies for 20 years and was part of the Dead Man Inc. team in competition on Sunday. He said that if the price of cars continues to increase, the sport will die away in this area.

“When I first started, you could pick up a car for $50,” he said. “Now you’re looking at $1,500 if you want a good one.”

The five Dead Man Inc. drivers were sporting orange and black T-shirts to match the paint of their seven cars, though the team had another theme keeping it together: Their cars were dedicated to Jason M. Wing, a 21-year-old Fort Covington man who was killed in 2010 by Dustin J. Trimm.

“He’s on all of our cars: ‘Rest in peace, Crazy Kid,’” said Roxanne M. Stratton, Mr. Wing’s mother. “We drive for him.”

The team of Mr. Wing’s family and friends also made a dedication to Garrett J. Phillips, a sixth-grader at A.A. Kingston Middle School, Potsdam, who was killed in October 2011.

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