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Fairgoers flock to arena events

Carlson (above, in ‘1A’ car) collides with a competitor during the Demolition Derby at the the 76th annual Mother Lode Fair on Sunday in Sonora. Rick Roberts, of Sonora (inset, at left) drives his red ‘U2’ car into the yellow ‘4Q’ car driven by Tuolumne resident Anthony Biggs (at right). Wyatt Dannicort, of Sonora (bottom, in ‘A3’ car) is chased by Deano Baca, of Coulterville (in ‘77’ car). Maggie Beck/The Union Democrat
For Krystyna Solus, attending the arena events at the Mother Lode Fair has always been a part of her summer routine growing up in Tuolumne County.

And now, the 20-year-old wants to share that same experience with her boyfriend, Jimmie Pope, 23, and daughter, Jazlynn, 2.

It’s a family tradition that the Jamestown couple hopes to start on an annual basis.

“I grew up coming here a lot,” Solus said. “We’re going to start coming here every year now, now that we have her. I want her to grow up being around here all the time.”

The same goes for the Malvini family of Sonora. 

Nicholas Malvini, 26, attended his first demolition derby with his wife, Leeco, and their two-year-old daughter Rose. The Malvinis moved to Sonora two years ago from Phoenix, Ariz., and enjoyed their first Mother Lode Fair.

The derby was their fourth arena event that they went to this weekend.

“It was worth every penny,” Malvini said.

The demolition derby closed out the summer fair Sunday night to a standing-room only crowd. With locals and tourists scattered throughout, it was an action-packed wreckage with cheering, hollering and screaming.

Despite multiple warning signs telling spectators to be alert and keep a good distance from the arena, each heat attracted adults and children alike to the railing for a closer, in-your-face view.

That was the preferred cheering section for Brenton Nicholls, 32, of Sonora. He was rooting for his friend and derby driver Rick Roberts, even though there was a high percentage chance of getting smacked in the body and face by debris, dirt or mud.

“I get excited when cars hit,” Nicholls said. “I love watching metal hit metal so hard, especially when you know people can be doing that safely.

“You come here to see this, and maybe get mud sprayed in your face.”

To ensure safety, fair and event staff asked adults and children to take a step back once the cars got closer to the railing and stands.

But for most fairgoers, it’s all part of the experience.

And for 8-year-olds Haiden Bourasa and Mason DeBello, both of Sonora, the demolition derby was a night worth remembering.

“It’s awesome,” DeBello said. “I got sprayed with dirt!”

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