Riders after the storm

Perhaps competitor Thomas Karbowiak said it best.

“Where else can I go and drink some beer, have some fun and smash something, all for a good cause?”

Karbowiak was one of 58 drivers in the 16th annual K & R Lawn Mower Derby that attracted a huge crowd Saturday behind the Knights of Columbus Hall in Wapakoneta.

Approximately 700 people attended the event, which is hosted by Jeremy Resor and Chad Kantner. Proceeds from the event are used to help fund various local charitable needs in the community throughout the year.

Kantner and Resor came up with the idea for the event several years ago while playing cards and a friend’s house. The 58 lawn mowers was the largest contingent the derby has ever drawn, and approximately $7,400 was raised at the event.

The Knights of Columbus took care of food and beverages fir the fund raiser and Amvets raised money with parking at the event.

When the smoke had cleared and the mowers stopped running, Dylan Steinke, of Wapakoneta, emerged as repeat champion as he also won the event last year. But most it seemed winning was the last thing on the minds of most of the drivers. It was all about good fun.

“This is the second year I’ve been in,” Karbowiak said. “I will come back next year. It was a lot of fun and it was for a good cause. I plan to get a new mower for it next year.”

Alex Newman said the event’s biggest attraction is its uniqueness.

“This is the first year I have entered,” Newman said. “I had a lot of friends who had entered before. You can find car derbies anywhere. Where else can you find a lawn mower derby? Oh yeah, I will be back next year.”

Rick Ginter, of St. Marys, said they event was a lot of fun and he was happy to compete for a good cause.

“This was the first year I was in it, but I had heard about before from some friends,” Ginter said. “It isn’t about winning or for the money. It’s about fun for a good cause. They asked us if we wanted to compete for a money prize and all of the drivers said ‘just give all of the money to them.’ I will be back again next year.”

While one of the event’s attractions to riders is a certain element of danger, rules are put in place to make the event relatively safe. Mowers are restricted to a 36 1/2-inch hood height, and the mowers cannot be reinforced. Fuel tanks and batteries must be secure, and purposely hitting the sides of other mowers is restricted due to possible injuries of legs being exposed.

Firefighters from Buckland and EMTs from New Knoxville were on hand to handle injuries and fuel spills. Competitors are stopped in event of fuel spills, overturned mowers or riders falling off their mowers.