Ready, Set, Go … to the Ellwood City Main Drag Derby and Fall Fest on Saturday, Sept. 27.
The day starts at 9 a.m. when the derby cars will begin to glide down Lawrence Avenue, and it will continue until 4 p.m. with activities at Fall Fest. So far there are 32 participants in the soapbox derby-style race including 25 stock car, four super stock cars and three vintage cars.
According to derby event organizer Earla Marshall, who is working with the Kitchen Cabinet to host the event, the vintage car participants will not race; they will take the initial cruise down the “track” in their cars to kick off the event.
“The vintage car portion is all about Nostalgia,” Marshall said. “These races were big things.”
For some of the racers, derby is a family “thing.” Marshall said the Cusato family began racing in 1948 with Ron as the racer. He also raced in 1949, ’50 and ’51 until his son Craig took over the family car in 1970, ’71 and ’72. On Saturday, Ron’s great grandson will race a car crafted and carefully taken care of over four generations of men. Craig Cusato now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but he will travel to Ellwood to watch the race.
When the race commences, drivers will be competing for four prizes. First place wins $100, second place wins $75, third place wins $50 and fourth place wins $25.
More than just a race, Marshall said the derby is a way to bring positive attention to the town.
“There’s so much more to this than just the car and winning,” she said.
Marshall believes the event is a way to bring families together through the development and building of the cars and a way to bring the community together in support of Ellwood’s business district.
She hopes to see the race become a regular event.
Once the winners have run the final “laps,” spectators and participants can enjoy a day of Fall Fest activities.
Whether it be a climb up the rock climbing wall, a stint in a sumo suit, or a trip through the ”Bugs Life Obstacle Course,” there will be plenty to keep festival goers busy.
“It’s going to be a big party on the main drag,” he said.
Event organizer Bob Rivers said there will also be a bocce ball tournament, live entertainment and an open mic event—hosted by National Grind—in the community plaza. Nalco is sponsoring the horse-drawn trolley rides. Rivers added that if any of the activities have a charge it will be under $5.
In addition to activities, Rivers said there will be a pumpkin carving contest, a pet costume contest, and a car cruise. That’s not all, about 20 vendors along Lawrence Avenue and will range from information, to food, to candles and crafts. Some of the stores on Main Street will also feature sales.
“This is the perfect opportunity for businesses to be featured while giving back to the community,” Rivers said. “Fall Fest is a great way to instill more pride in Ellwood.”
Rivers said he and the other main organizers—Nikki Ierino of PNC Bank and Councilman David DeCaria—hope to see a large crowd enjoying what the downtown has to offer.
Sponsors of the event are ESB Bank, Northwood Realty Services and the Ellwood City Area Chamber of Commerce.
For information about Open Mic, call Rivers at 412-860-0752. For information about Fall Fest, call the Ellwood City Area Chamber of Commerce at 724-758-5501. For information about the Main Drag Derby, call Earla Marshall at 724-758-0971.