Can you smell the motor oil? Can you hear the sound of crumpling fenders? That’s right: The Northeast Ohio county-fair season revs up this week when the Cuyahoga County Fair opens its gates at 5 p.m. today and runs through Sunday, August 16, at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds (164 Eastland Rd., off Bagley, in Berea). Yes, there are animals, big vegetables, crafts of all kinds, food you shouldn’t eat every day (including a “Gummi Worm Pie Eating Contest” for kids at 4 p.m. Tuesday), rides, harness racing, music ranging from polka to a big Bruce Springsteen tribute show in the grandstand on Thursday. But the main attraction is the demolition derby. This vestige of the same ’50s culture that made icons of professional wrestling, roller derby, drive-in movies and drag racing lives on at county fairs across America. It’s one of the most honest forms of “racing,” acknowledging that the appeal of motor sports is to see something crash or catch on fire: The sole point of a demolition derby is to bang into and disable other cars, vying to be the last one running. There’s a qualifying heat at 8 tonight, another at 3 p.m. Sunday, with the finals at 7 p.m. Sunday — all in the grandstand. It’s so popular they charge another $8 just to see the qualifiers; finals are $9. After the derby, the fair closes with a big fireworks display. Fair admission is $5.95 adults, $4.95 kids and seniors; ride wristbands are $12. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday noon-11 p.m. (10 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday), Sunday noon-10 p.m. — Anastasia Pantsios
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