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Hundreds enjoy demo derby, corn feed at Balta Dam

By Sue Sitter - | Aug 21, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Two compact cars battle to the finish at the Balta Annual Demolition Derby held Aug. 8 at Balta Dam.

Hundreds of area residents braved scorching afternoon temperatures at Balta Dam to cheer on their favorite entry in a demo derby and enjoy corn on the cob Aug. 8.

The annual Balta demo derby and Little Flower Parish Annual Corn Feed brought dozens of cars and pickup trucks to the normally quiet Balta Dam recreation area. Some spectators set up chairs and beverage coolers in their truck beds to watch as dented cars chased each other around a short track, each driver hoping their beater would be the sole survivor of the contest.

Across the parking lot, families gathered at picnic tables near a small building where volunteers from St. Therese Little Flower Parish set out large platters of hot dogs, buns, chips and corn on the cob. At the end of the table stood open coffee pots full of melted butter to dunk the cobs in.

Father John Aerts, Little Flower’s new associate pastor, stood near the building’s entrance taking photos of parishioners enjoying their meals. “It’s awesome!” Aerts said. “Even on a hot day, it’s a great turnout. People are in love with the Lord, visiting each other, having some food; some of them have been going here 30 or 40 years,” Aerts said, smiling. “I met Joe Haman, he’s 92. He told me he used to live in Towner. All the old guys are coming back and old gals. It’s very good to be here!”

Like other social activities around the county, the corn feed had been canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, parishioners and other residents returned to Balta in droves for the Sunday celebration. Some even brought their RVs and camped overnight at the dam.

Near a boat ramp, children splashed and swam close to the shoreline. Next to the picnic area, Chuck Chaffee stood near eight large pots for cooking corn, each heated by propane tanks.

“We’re keeping up (with the demand) because it only takes 11 minutes to cook the corn,” Chaffee said, standing next to a bucket of about 20 ears of corn on wooden sticks. “You see how big our buckets are. We can cook a lot in a short period of time.”

“We just cook it until it gets kind of yellow on the inside,” Chaffee said, showing a row of golden kernels fanning out from the end of a cob.

“I’ve been doing this at least 10 years, nothing less,” Chaffee said.

“It’s an all-day event,” Chaffee added. “At nine o’clock, people come out and husk and cut corn and it makes a long day.”

Chaffee said he had help to stay cool while he tended the steaming pots in the sweltering sunshine.

“We’ve got these tents this year, Chaffee said, moving under a blue awning. “We’ve never had these before, but this year, we do.”

Donnie Schmaltz, who purchased food for the event, gave credit to Leevers Foods for supplying the corn and other provisions. “We kind of figure throughout the year what we go through. We have hot dogs, corn, chips, pop and water. We have 2,400 cobs of corn and 2,000 hot dogs. Every year, we don’t take much back. It’s nip and tuck,”

“We started doing this a few years ago where we have the corn feed and derby together and by far, we go through way more food with the derby,” Schmaltz added. “Every year it’s helped us.”

Derby organizer Jay Loughman said five derby drivers finished in the stop spots for the Aug. 8 event. Small car category winner was Chuck Gayle, Rugby. Dylan Ovitt, Harvey, finished second in the division. In the standard size category, Dustin Samuelson of Devils Lake took first place. Kyle Arends took second place, while Cody Hoffart finished third.

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