LIVERMORE, Maine — In a former cow pasture in Livermore, Independence Day weekend was celebrated with dust, mud and engines loud enough to rival the loudest fireworks display.
Souped-up Chevys, Dodges, GMCs and Jeeps lined up Saturday night — minutes before Barnyard All Terrain’s Firecracker 4×4′s elaborate fireworks show — with a show of horsepower and noise.
It’s called “Thunder Row.”
“Everybody gets revved up,” said Jill Lovewell, a Barnyard co-owner. Then, a $4,000 fireworks show would light up the sky.
It’s becoming a Fourth of July tradition.
Now in it’s third year, the weekend-long event had already drawn between 900 and 1,000 people by Saturday afternoon, said David Lovewell, who shares the property with his wife and their sons, Josh and Jay.
The event has grown so big, it has drawn the attention of Florida-based mud media — “Mud Life Magazine” and “Trucks Gone Wild.”
It’s worked because Barnyard has a good staff, a well-maintained facility and” a dedicated family of racers,” David Lovewell said. Many of the racers and a few local businesses even chipped in on the fireworks. Their names were written across a fence that marked a pasture border.
Despite the numbers of people who have been attending the races, there have been few problems, said Jill Lovewell. They have fostered a family atmosphere. People from out of state began arriving in campers and tents on Tuesday.
The scene on Saturday was of a casual, outdoor party interrupted by clouds of dust, ear-splitting engines and periodic showers of mud.
The track featured a mud bog that stretched more than 100 feet.
One after another, trucks hooked to a loose cable and tried half-swimming, half-crawling the length of the bog. If they made it, they unhooked the cable and rolled away. If they mired, they were pulled back to the start and off the track.
Though some vehicles entered with elaborate paint jobs, all left covered in the same shade of brown.
The activity seemed to inspire Lou Hemingway of Greene, a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran who was introduced to mudding by a son. By the time the Barnyard kicked off its Independence Day runs in 2009, Hemingway was hooked.
He likes tinkering on his truck — he blew a drive shaft in a run early Saturday — but he loves the social side of the event. He figured he had about 20 family members and close friends on the field.
On Saturday afternoon, he walked through the crowd wearing red, white and blue shorts, a top that barely covered his paunch and a floppy, flag-colored hat.
Women whistled. Men winced.
“At least I didn’t wear what I wore last year,” Hemingway said. “I wore a red, white and blue Speedo.”
Most people were more like Scott Scherbon of Merrimac, Mass. He sat in a folding chair far from the action with a can of Coors. He had buddies to watch in the bog, but he also had beers to drink and stories to tell. It wouldn’t be the same at home, he said.
“You can loosen up a little more here in Maine,” he said.
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