How’s that for red­neck?

Lawn­mower rac­ing high­lights an­nual Red­neck Rodeo at Bayfest

Tillsonburg News - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Ab­bott

Lawn mow­ers come in all sizes and shapes, and Sun­day’s Red­neck Rodeo at Bayfest in Port Rowan had six of them.

“It was fun,” said de­fend­ing Red­neck Rodeo cham­pion Ian Che­va­lier from Port Rowan, who was rac­ing a vin­tage 1968-1970 10hp Wheel Horse. “I mean, some had hy­dro-static so it’s not as easy to do...”

Hy­dro­static mow­ers have ad­van­tages over gear-driven me­chan­i­cal-belt mow­ers, in­clud­ing more power, quicker re­sponse, bet­ter brak­ing and ma­neu­ver­abil­ity. Which meant one of the mow­ers Sun­day af­ter­noon had an ad­van­tage. But all par­tic­i­pants seemed to have fun, in­clud­ing rid­ers on three sig­nif­i­cantly slower mow­ers.

The race for­mat changed slightly from pre­vi­ous years. In past years com­peti­tors raced to the far end of the roped-off street (maybe 50-75m), came to a com­plete stop, hopped off the mower and phys­i­cally lifted the front end around un­til it was fac­ing the op­po­site di­rec­tion, jumped back on and raced to the fin­ish. This year, two chairs at the far end al­lowed rid­ers to swing around and re­turn with­out get­ting off the mow­ers.

The big sur­prise, at least in the first cou­ple of heats, was watch­ing both rid­ers veer to their ‘out­side’ lane turn­ing to meet on the ‘in­side’ track - nearly col­lid­ing head-on.

“I wasn’t an­tic­i­pat­ing him go­ing to the out­side, we should have prob­a­bly planned that,” said Che­va­lier. “But he was right, we’ve got peo­ple sit­ting close the end there. Next year we’ll pre-plan things.”

Six en­tries com­peted in the two-mower heats. Two losses meant elim­i­na­tion, and Che­va­lier’s came ear­lier than ex­pected giv­ing him fourth place to go with sec­ond in 2016 and a 2017 first-place rib­bon.

“it’s a lot of fun, the kids love it,” said Che­va­lier, en­joy­ing post-race ice cream from twins ice Cream par­lour with his fam­ily. “it’s all for fun, that’s for sure.”

port rowan’s brad mey­ers took the sec­ond-place prize Sun­day rac­ing an un­known make and model that he re­fur­bished about four years ago.

“i don’t even know what make it is,” mey­ers laughed. “i picked it up as scrap from a friend.”

“the Junky 2000,” a young sup­porter joked.

“yeah, call it that if you want,” mey­ers smiled. “the guy threw it out, he said it was no good. So i got it run­ning and i cut my grass with it - and i won $50 last year with it sec­ond - and again this year.”

he said his only ini­tial cost was putting oil into it.

“i think he was sur­prised i got it run­ning.

“noth­ing’s changed,” he said, not­ing the ‘Junky 2000’ still has its orig­i­nal 10hp briggs Strat­ton mo­tor.

“i just by­passed it here, with a string,” he said, not­ing the shoelace type string at­tached to the ‘gov­er­nor’, which reg­u­lates speed. “you want red­neck, you got red­neck. it looks stupid, but hey, it runs. See, i’m just by­pass­ing the gov­er­nor... but i’m tak­ing a chance i could get a blown ma­chine. but you know, it was scrap.”

mey­ers went head to head in the fi­nal heat of the day with even­tual win­ner Kirk bridg­man, also from the port rowan area. mey­ers stalled at the start line in the first at­tempt, then gave his ma­chine all it had in the re-run, which bridg­man won.

“it was a stock ma­chine, it (bridg­man’s Cub Cadet) just had... what do they call it? hy­dro­static,” said mey­ers, who is con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing en­gines with some­thing a bit big­ger next year. and maybe a new prop to re­place the string of beer cans trail­ing be­hind. “red­neck,” mey­ers smiled. the red­neck rodeo, spon­sored by erie me­chan­i­cal Ser­vices, also in­cluded three ear­lier events ‘rub­ber Chicken throw’ (for dis­tance), ball throw through the toi­let Seat (for ac­cu­racy), and Funny Faces (for laughs), giv­ing kids and adults with­out mow­ers a chance to en­ter for prizes.

Chris Ab­bott/Till­son­burg news

Port Rowan's Brad Mey­ers races in the an­nual Bayfest Red­neck Rodeo Sun­day in Port Rowan. Mey­ers fin­ished sec­ond, win­ning a $50 prize on his sal­vaged lawn­mower.

Brian Thomp­son/Post­media Net­work

Ice-cream eat­ing chal­lenge par­tic­i­pants (from left) Si­mon Ste­wart and Brae­lynne Plum­ley, both age seven from Port Rowan, and six-year-old Ella Cronk of Chatham do their best to eat ice cream with­out the use of a spoon or their hands on Satur­day dur­ing the an­nual Bayfest fes­ti­val in Port Rowan.

Brian Thomp­son/ Post­media Net­work

Phillip Mercier (left), age 10 of Port Dover, his seven-year-old brother Nate, and their mother Tanya were all par­tic­i­pants in the soap box derby races on Satur­day dur­ing the an­nual Bayfest cel­e­bra­tion in Port Rowan.

Vin­cenT Ball/Post­media Net­work

Vir­ginia Mitchell used more than 120 lo­cally-made quilts to de­liver a his­tory les­son to vis­i­tors of the Port Rowan Com­mu­nity Church on the week­end. The church was the home of an quilt and an­tique doll show that was added to Bayfest 2018 com­mu­nity cel­e­bra­tion in Port Rowan. The ex­hibit also in­cluded some an­tique dolls and toys from mem­bers of the church con­gre­ga­tion.

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