It was 1988 and the Lind Lions Club were making plans to add an extra event to the annual rodeo as the Centennial celebration was about to begin. Their participation event was decided after Ruben Fode, local Lions member and farmer, described recently watching a combine derby he had recently watched. With old combines in the area and looking for something new and different, the Lions took the idea, expanded on it, and they were off and running. With the annual rodeo fast approaching and being held during Centennial Week, they decided that their Centennial activity would be a combine derby planned during the rodeo intermission. Bill Loomis, local implement dealer, just happened to have the combines for such an event!
Just like that, 1988 became the birth of the Combine Demolition Derby. So, on June 9, 1988, and during the last event of the Centennial Celebration, 9 old combines (thanks to a grave yard at Loomis T & T) entered the rodeo arena during intermission and “all hell broke loose”. The crowds went wild! It was beyond comprehension that those massive 10,000+ lb. machines could cause so much havoc, could entice so much spectator enthusiasm, and could deliver the high decibels of metal hitting metal. The sounds reverberated throughout the arena for hours, and those leaving the arena were in shock. Just what had they witnessed? How could they become a driver? What would it take to find an old combine? The crowd was appreciative, and over and over you heard, “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
The rest of this story is history. In fact, it’s soon to be 32 years of history. Thanks to the Lind Lions club who did just what they do best: Succeed! Their plans for the following weekend were being formulated with a bigger and better derby as a goal. Rules were made and remade, a rodeo arena began evolving into a state of the art facility. As time went on, the combines became the main attraction of the weekend celebration and interest and enthusiasm grew throughout the United States. The Lions Club welcomed drivers from as far away as Australia, and they’ve had up to 26 combines in one weekend. The derby’s been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, honored in a 5 page article in the 50th edition of Play Boy Magazine, been on many television programs, and KHQ in Spokane was awarded an Emmy for their fantastic feature of the derby. They’ve been headlines in many newspapers, and have the interest of many Lions Clubs who want to know, “How do you do it?”
The drivers are well paid, coming from towns throughout the United States. They will earn money for being the best decorated combine, winning heats, and for being the last combine running at the end of the day. The crowds have their favorites and are loyal to those returning year after year. They’re a great group of drivers who put on a very entertaining show. They all have the respect of a grateful Lions Club and a loyal community.
Join the group. You just might love it! In 2018, the Lions celebrated their 31st derby, and as long as they can find the combines, they see no end to this amazing event.