They push things, pull things, wreck things, and demolish things in a three-day mechanical melee that pits cars against cars, trucks against trucks, and features the largest, car-crunching dinosaur in the world.
Welcome to Lawrencetown. And yes, car hockey is back.
The July 7-9 rain-or-shine event is packed full of fun from Friday at 4 p.m. when gates open, until the demolition derby on Sunday afternoon. But the main attraction is Robosaurus, a 48-foot semi trailer that transforms into a fire-breathing, 40-foot high tyrannosaurus rex, picks up cars and cuts them in two.
It’s been known to eat small airplanes and has appeared in a number of television movies and dramas.
Exhibition manager Rachel Taylor was excited to snag the 34-ton Robosaurus for this year’s Redneck Rodeo. The transforming dinosaur from Las Vegas has only been to Canada once, and that was for an event in Toronto.
“We can’t wait to welcome him,” said Taylor. “He’s going to do a show every day. We’ll get him to do a show after dark so we can see his flames really good. And we’re going to do some earlier shows for the kids so everybody can get to see it.”
Other events include log loading, lawn tractor and ATV pulls, truck pulls, highland games, burnouts, an antique tractor pull, highland games, skid steer, motorcycle show and shine, big rigs, cool cars, a parade, and ATV contests.
New this year is a midway, a woodsman contest, motorcycle show and shine, and more vendors.
The pulls are amazingly popular and Spicers Construction is doing work at the bottom of the hill in front of Riverside Stage to create a full-length pulling track and gravelling some of the flat area so the demolition derby and car hockey can get more traction.
And traction is something the Redneck Rodeo seems to have plenty of. It went from an idea to a runaway success last year, attracting more than 8,000 people and setting the stage for this year’s version that promises bigger and better and more than double the crowd.
“We created Redneck Rodeo last year because we’d been rained out for most of the exhibition the year before,” said Taylor. “We’d been really hurt financially and we knew we had to something to fix where we were. And we knew we could just go to the county and say ‘please help us.’ So the Redneck Rodeo came from there and we actually paid back every penny in the overdraft and made a few extra dollars for exhibition – which is what we’re all about. It was a huge success, and that was even though we pretty much got rained out on the Sunday of Redneck Rodeo.”
Even with the inclement Sunday weather at last year’s rodeo, the event was a success just in the first two days. That makes Taylor think this year is going to be even better.
“It was a busy start. We’re expecting it to be quite a lot busier this year now that the word’s getting out,” she said. “I’m looking really at 20,000 people for the weekend. That’s what I’m expecting this year.”
While most events take place at the exhibition grounds, the parade will halt traffic on Highway 1 in Lawrencetown Saturday evening. Taylor refers to it as the Parade of All Things Mechanical that starts at Fitch Road and makes its way through the village – everything from big rigs, trucks, and motorcycles to custom vehicles.
Taylor also attributes the success of Redneck Rodeo to sponsors like Fraser’s Pro Home Centre, Bruce Auto Group, the County of Annapolis, Nichols Excavating, Loomer’s Pumping, and Spicer Construction.
“The directors for the exhibition have taken this on and have really run with it, and we’ve done a lot of work here in the office,” she said, “and also the exhibition proper – volunteers who would usually be doing Home Crafts or would be doing Light Horse have stepped in to help too because they know how important it is too keep the exhibition alive, which is the purpose of it.”
She estimated there are more than 100 volunteers for Redneck Rodeo already.
She said the atmosphere at Redneck is different than exhibition. In fact it was so totally different it surprised them.
“There were a lot of families, which is what we were aiming for with the whole event last year and what we’re aiming for again – it was people that we didn’t recognize,” she said. People from all across Southwest Nova Scotia – from the South Shore, Yarmouth, and all points in between.
But like the exhibition, it was a great time.
“It was just fun,” she said. “It was one of the best weekends I can remember in ages. Just people wanting to enjoy themselves -- and there was great atmosphere.”
Who can go? Anybody, because the entry costs are low.
“We think it’s really important where it is a family event and where we’re a not-for-profit community event that we keep the prices so that people can afford to come,” Taylor said.
A weekend pass for an adult is $25; for a child six to 12 is $10 for the weekend; and five and under is free. A day pass for an adult is $10 and for ages six to 12 is $5.
There is plenty of onsite parking run by the Lions Club as a fundraiser, with overflow at the COGS field. And the Lawrencetown firefighters will do their parking lot as well.
“It’s a great, great thing for the community and it’s a great, great thing for Lawrencetown,” Taylor said.
Friday, July 7
4 p.m. Gates Open
6:30 p.m. Log Loading, Main Ring
7 p.m. Car Hockey, Riverside Stage
8 p.m. Lawn Tractor / ATV Pulls, Pulling Ring
8:30 p.m. ATV Contest, Main Ring
9 p.m. Robosaurus, Riverside Stage
Saturday, July 8
8:30 a.m. Truck Pull Weigh-ins, scales
10 a.m. Truck Pull, Riverside Stage
10 a.m. Big Rigs, Midway
10 a.m. Cool Cars, Craft Building
11 a.m. Skid Steer, Main Ring
12 p.m. Woodsman Contest, Main Ring
12 p.m. Motorcycle Show and Shine, Grey Display Building
4 p.m. Highland Games, Main Ring
5:30 p.m. Robosaurus, Riverside Stage
6 p.m. Burnout, Riverside Stage
7 p.m. ATV Contest, Main Ring
9 p.m. Parade, Main Street
Sunday, July 9
10 a.m. Antique Tractor Weigh-ins, scales
10 a.m. Sign-in Demolition Derby, Riverside Stage
11 a.m. Antique Tractor Pull, Pulling Ring
12 p.m. Motorcycle Show and Shine, Grey Display Building
12 p.m. Big Rigs, Midway
12 p.m. Cool Cars, Craft Building
12:30 p.m. Robosaurus, Riverside Stage
1:30 p.m. Demolition Derby, Riverside Stage