Little joy in Waterville after fireworks no show

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WATERVILLE — The stands were full of spectators Wednesday eager for the demolition derby and fireworks display — a 20-year tradition on Independence Day.

This time, their own patriotism was the only thing that sparkled.

The guy from Eagle Fireworks of Kent didn't show.

"The guy just evidently got lost," said a very disappointed Julie Osborne, office manager at the North Central Washington District fairgrounds. "He showed up at around 11, but we had to dismiss the crowd by then."

The derby was also less than bang-up. Osborne said fair officials were expecting 10 to 15 participants.

Only about six cars made it to the fairgrounds' Andy Janssen Memorial Arena this year. The actual derby was canceled, but the ones that did show up put on an impromptu performance.

Osborne said turnout at demolition derbies all round the region have been less-than-expected this year. She suspects it's because the large old cars used in the derby are becoming a thing of the past and hard to come by.

Entrants these days are more interested in the pre-derby races — figure eights around the arena, laps in reverse and others — but don't want to smash their cars, she said.

Officials had put out a call for smaller cars, but only one showed up, she said. That car broke down with a defective water pump.

County officials will assess what they need to do to refund spectators' $8-to-$14 ticket prices, she said. They hadn't yet paid for the $3,000 fireworks display, so no loss, there.

"Except for the goodwill," Osborne said. "How can you put a price tag on that?