Growing up as kids in 1980’s Appalachia, we learned to entertain ourselves with what we had in front of us. A washing machine in the front yard became a rocket ship. An old carburetor, a time bomb. In a place generously bestowed with yard cars and gunpowder, the entertainment solutions were both limited and self-evident. To me it is no surprise that the demolition derby is (and remains) the top billing attraction at county fairs across the region.
But things are changing in Appalachia: Backyard forts have given way to Fortnite, the steel chassis monster cars of the 20th century are being replaced by plastic imports and electric cars, and the once firm lines that delineated a boy’s world from a girl’s are rapidly dissolving. The 2018 race was won by Samantha Guyer, a tax preparer, mother of three, and lone female driver in the derby.
Demolition Men documents four years at the Bedford, Pennsylvania County Fair, capturing the lives of these modern motor gladiators.