SPRING VALLEY, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Interested area citizens lined South Washington Avenue for Wilder Fest's rain-delayed King of the Hill Soap Box Derby Sunday, Aug. 26.

The 1 p.m. starting time predicted by organizers Todd Jones and Jayson Smith found youth participants ready to roll. A ramp furnished by T.D. Fetterly, Inc. was especially designed to give racers an even start down the hill.

Car design and weight of the vehicle and driver may have had an influence on the racing outcome. Those who raced and those who watched enjoyed the thrill this event brought.

Those entering the 10- to 15-year-old class were: Tina Hadland, Taylor Metalf, Cory Mlenar, Kristian Marzolf, Skylar Sweeny, Tanner Lange, MacKenze Marzolf and Sam Eberle. When the race was complete, Mlenar had secured the first place trophy, followed by Sweeny in second and Lange received third.

The 16-year-old and over group had 13 contestants. Racing in this older division were: Mark Mills, S. Soltau, Jayson Osterhaus, Jayson Smith, Jon Westphal, Wes Peterson, Dan Horstman, Corey Jacobson, Jim Hubka, Troy Lange, Chelsea Mlenar, Josh Martin and Scott Sweeny. The winning trophies were awarded to: first place - Mlenar, second place - Westphal, and third place - Sweeny.

The King of the Hill Derby didn't fall into place on its own - the dedication shown by a staff surrounding Jones and Smith helped immensely. Boyd Metcalf, Terry Fetterly, Kevin Beck, Terry Howard, Mike and Deb Zimmer, Max Klepper, and Neimeyer Lawn Care all pitched in.

"We couldn't have done it without all their help," said Jayson Smith. "Plus, a huge thank you needs to go to Tracey and Jill who did so many things nobody was aware of."

The youngest person in the crowd of spectators was 4-day-old Cassie Jones. Her father, Todd Jones, commenting on the day's events, was overheard saying, "A baby, a flood, and the race in one week. It's been busy, but it's been great."

The response was so positive that plans are already being discussed for next year's King of the Hill Soap Box Derby. Information will be out well in advance to give as many people an opportunity to build and creatively decorate their vehicles.

If a prize had been given for the most novel soap box vehicle, it would have gone to a car sponsored by the Spring Valley Area Ambulance Association. This car, driven by Hadland, then Peterson, made use of several items used in emergencies like a wooden backboard and IV bag. Perhaps next year's race will include a category for novelty cars.

Even though crowds were smaller than originally expected had the race been held as planned after the parade, the King of the Hill Soap Box Derby appeared to go over very well. Some of the vendors and booths that were scheduled for the Spring Creek Market were set up in the park.

Jayson Smith comments, "Thank you to all the people who built cars, sponsored cars, and to the community who came out to watch. All this made our first King of the Hill Soap Box Derby a success!"

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