Southeast Manitoulin Lions’ 37th Summerfest packs a crunch

In a rarely-seen event, one car was flipped on its side during the smash-up derby. The driver was not injured.

MANITOWANING—The 37th annual Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club Summerfest and smash-up derby drew hundreds of supporters to enjoy a weekend of sunshine, great music and the annual destruction of 16 automotive creations.

“We learned lots this year and we had great support from the community. It was almost overwhelming,” said Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club president Lisa Hallaert, who noted that youth attendance was much higher this year. “Everything went quite well this year.”

Team Case played in the Jim Case Memorial Mixed Slo-Pitch Ball Tournament and, for the first time in the event’s nine-year history, walked away with the victory. The peewee and bantam ball teams that the Lions sponsored helped out by picking up garbage all weekend long.

Johnny Cash tribute act The Wiky 3 performed an excellent set on Saturday afternoon and the vocals may as well have been coming from The Man in Black himself. Lion Lisa said the lead singer was a pleasure to work with and helped to find a price that fit within the Lions Club’s budget.

At 1 pm, the kids’ bike pull took place on the track, pitting the strength of kids’ legs against the relentless forces of friction between the dirt ground, the toboggan frame and the weight of paving stones added on top. Contestant Liam Peltier offered up his bike as the designated pull machine and ended up taking the top prize for the event.

David Borton is all smiles in smash-up derby car No. 95, an ode to Lightning McQueen. photos by Warren Schlote

The high-octane action of the lawn mower races followed and saw the competitors battling it out on two mowers with different strengths. One excelled in handling and made light work of the tire-lined slalom course, while the other greatly struggled in this phase. However, the latter’s undesirable handling was more than made up for in its sheer straight-line speed and it ate up the other mower’s lead on the final drag back to the finish line. The Verboom boys very clearly excelled in this competition.

The Saturday night dance, facilitated by VJ Blake Debassige, went off without a hitch and saw attendance in great numbers.

One down note was the cancellation of the soapbox derby race. Lion Lisa said they were unable to secure the starting ramp in time for the race, but offered some hope for soapbox race aficionados: the Southeast Manitoulin Lions Club is working on getting the ramp for a later date in the summer and is looking to host a special event just for those races.

On Sunday afternoon, the smash-up derby rolled onto the grass field inside the race oval. Through the four main rounds, fun round and championship round, spectators enjoyed the crunches, scrapes and utter destruction that only an event of this sort can muster. 

Justin Maginn won for best spray-painted car, Steven Varey won for best hand-painted car and Don Turner won for best overall looking car.

Cole Chisholm won the first heat, Steven Varey won the second heat, Zack Burnett won the third heat and Tristan Golder won the fourth heat. In the final, Cole Chisholm emerged victorious as the overall winner in car No. 22.

It just wouldn’t be a Summerfest parade without Jean McLennan riding in style with Harold Clarke. Ms. McLennan, or ‘Aunt Jean,’ as she is widely known, just celebrated her 101st birthday Sunday. photo by Michael Erskine

The Assiginack Fire Department sprayed down the field when needed, attended to a couple of minor car fires and helped to right a car that was flipped up onto its side. Lion Lisa thanked the Township of Assiginack for its help with the event and all of the volunteers who gave their time to ensure this 37th Summerfest would be a smash success and paved a clear road to a bigger and better edition for its 38th year in 2020.