Photos: This is what it looks like when farm machinery goes to battle
|The Lind Combine Demolition Derby takes place the second weekend of June every year, and draws huge numbers of people to a town with a population of around 550.
Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4 | ISO 100 | F5.6 | 1/100 sec
Lind is one of those western American towns that, unfortunately, a lot of folks have forgotten about. It was never a huge town, but the railroad brought enough hustle and bustle to support people’s jobs and families. But then the completion of Interstate 90 from Seattle to Boston effectively altered the flow of people around Lind instead of through it.
There are still a handful of businesses scraping by - Slim’s Tavern is one, and Jim’s Market is another. Although, given that Slim’s is owned by a man named Skip, it seems unlikely that Jim’s Market is still owned by someone who goes by Jim. Then again, Slim's has literally been around for more than a hundred years, so I guess an eventual change in ownership was inevitable.
|Bill, at his home one block off main street in downtown Lind. Bill used to be the announcer for the demolition derby, but health problems have forced him to retire and pass on the torch.
Lumix S 24-105mm F4 | ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F4
A friend and I went to Lind for the one weekend a year where Slim’s Tavern is packed to the rafters. It's the only weekend where Skip’s grandson comes through not just to visit, but to help out behind the bar, pouring shots of Jaegermeister and Fireball, neither of which is stocked (or needed) for the bar’s regulars the rest of the year. There are only two beers on tap: Budweiser and Bud Light, and they ran out of Bud Light.
The second weekend in June is home to the Lind Combine Demolition Derby. There are pickup truck races too, and there’s a parade, but the main attraction concerns the smashing of ancient combine harvesters. These mechanical steel farm hands belch out black diesel smoke as they slam into each other in the arena to the sounds of cheers and the crushing of beer cans.
|The tail-end (pun intended) of the parade.
Lumix S 24-105mm F4 | ISO 100 | 1/1250 sec | F4
So how exactly does a combine demolition derby work? There are several heats taking place over the course of the afternoon starting at 1pm sharp, and if a driver hasn't made contact with another combine in three minutes, he or she is disqualified. The last wreck still moving at the end of each 15-minute heat is the winner, and in-between heats there are intermissions where teams may make some repairs if necessary. Honestly, the full rules are pretty thorough.
And lest anyone worry about the waste involved in smashing up perfectly good equipment - well, it's not exactly perfectly good. The rules require the combines to be quite old, and most people are upgrading to fancier GPS-driven equipment anyway. Will they eventually run out of old combines? Perhaps. But for now, that's a bridge best crossed when it's arrived at.
In any case, my friend and I showed up on the morning before the main event, just catching the tail-end of the parade. The plan? Talk to the locals, soak up the culture, and photograph the crap out of everything. It was a spectacle the likes of which I’ve never seen before, and won’t likely see again (until next year, anyway).
|Spectators in the beer garden are kept some distance from the combines, but that doesn't mean you won't get covered in dust.
Lumix S 24-105mm F4 | ISO 100 | 1/400 sec | F4
I used the new Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R. This brief story, and the point of our trip, are about the town and pictures of Lind and not about the gear we used, so I won’t go into too much detail beyond the fact that it was a great camera for this sort of work. In short, it was responsive, sealed against the dust and beer, and gave me tons of resolution and great color out-of-camera.
Some of these images will make a reappearance in our full S1R review, but for now, enjoy the sights of Lind, Washington, during the one weekend where the town’s status rises to that of ‘destination’, the streets are crowded, and late at night, the bar is once again packed.
|Spectators exit the stands after most of the combines have died.
Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4 | ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F8
All images in this story are processed through Adobe Camera Raw 11, using the 'Camera Standard' color profile.
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