When the chaos of Saturday’s combine derby had subsided at the Lorain County fairgrounds, Joseph Knoble Jr. of Henrietta Township stood at the head of the pack.
The Henrietta Township resident came out on top in the light division, which was the first time he’d taken home a first place prize in nearly a decade of competing in the event.
“I was just trying to get unhooked and put on a show for everybody,” Knoble said — event supervisors had to separate his tractor from another during the competition. “Putting a show on is what we come here for. That’s why people come here to watch and it’s why we can have this event every year.”
Knoble’s John Deere combine has been used in the derby for 16 years but he has only driven it himself since 2009.
He prevailed over a crowded field that didn’t provide much leeway between open mud and heavy duty crashes. The fair’s grandstand was filled to capacity during the event with a long line of spectators waiting to get in.
Competition in the light and heavy divisions left combine bodies twisted and many tires flat and mangled.
“You just gotta tell yourself to keep going while you’re out there,” he said. “Just go out and hit something. Keep moving and have fun. That’s the best way.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.