OLD HOME DAY HAS PLENTY OF KICK
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DRACUT — Chris Bovil calculated the perfect distance, turned and took a flying leap over a line of five classmates landing his foot squarely in the middle of a piece of plywood and snapping it in two. As the pieces went flying, the crowd erupted into applause and a young voice yelled, “Whoa! Did you see that?!?!”

The 16-year-old Bovil was demonstrating the skills he has learned over the past seven years at the Dracut Martial Arts Academy at the Old Home Day festivities.

The annual celebration kicked off with an opening ceremony that included the martial arts demonstration plus a performance by Dracut Idol winner Ashley Tello on the morning of Sept. 9 at the Christos Daoulas Education Complex on Lakeview Avenue.

“I just love the kicking and fighting,” Bovil, of Dracut, said as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He was joined in the demonstration by 22-year-old classmate Ashley Carroll of Dracut, who was excited to be participating in Old Home Day for the first time after attending classes and practicing three to five times a week to achieve this tip-top fighting shape.

Along with the performances and demonstrations, Old Home Day offered more than 125 vendor booths spread across the ball fields. Those attending the festival had an abundance of foods from which to choose, along with plenty of crafts and other items to browse through. The gazebo was home to all-day entertainment, including musical selections by the Dracut High School band and the Gentlemen Songsters, an a-cappella group.

Now in its sixth year, the event pulled in a record number of vendors, so organizers expanded the range of festivities for the first time onto Lakeview Avenue to make room for a bigger and better car show.

More than 100 antique cars were entered for judging. People walked around with ballots before voting for their favoriteset of wheels. Two winners were chosen for each of the 16 categories, and one car was selected for the overall best of show.

Dracut Roadrunner member Ernie Harris of Lowell proudly displayed his 1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe. He said he spends all of his spare time and money restoring the car back to its original state.

“It’s just me and my wallet; I’ve put about $15,000 into this car,” he said with a big smile.

Scott Campbell of Dracut took home the award for best of show for the third year in a row with his 1972 Ford Mustang.

“Take your time, detail and have fun,” were Campbell’s words of advice for future competitors.

If the antique cars didn’t catch the fancy of the crowds, the monster trucks parked in the grass were at least enough for a double take.

They don’t call Jeff Bursey’s truck “Earthmover” for nothing. The colossal tires on the methanol-burning, 1000-horsepower beast have crushed the metal of cars across the nation — and they have the battle scars to prove it.

Bursey, president of the Monster Truck Racing Association, said he races on the international circuit and has put more than $100,000 in his prize truck. All of the work on his truck is done at his Dracut shop, J.B. Motorsports.

“We usually come in for Firefighters Activity Day, but this is our first time coming to Old Home Day,” he said.

After rolling Earthmover during a practice run on Sept. 4, Bursey had to rush to get it put back together for a show in London, Ontario, one week later.

“We’ve been putting it back together at my shop in Dracut all week,” he said. “It just needs to be painted and it will be set for the race.”

Other entertainment highlights of the day included the big landing of skydiver Denis Ducharme of Dracut, and a demonstration by the newest member of the Dracut Police Department, Mason the dog.

Have a story idea? Contact Heidi Smith at 978-970-4653 or e-mail at hsmith@thevalleydispatch.com.