After four years at Thomas Park, the Kustom Kemps of America Leadsled Spectacular moved to Oakdale Park, a move that brought with it more space for more of its show cars and more spectators — and more trash than city workers could handle.
“The trash was brutal,” said Frank LaForge, an exhibitor out of Wichita. “People were really trying to get the trash into the containers. The city didn’t shine whatsoever.”
LaForge said trash containers were full when he arrived at the show Saturday morning and didn’t see anyone emptying them near his spot by the park’s Eric Stein stage. At one point, LaForge said, the trash formed a 2-foot-tall pyramid above one trash container.
“We were parked near the stage where all the basic excitement was going on, and the biggest messes,” LaForge said.
“It was the same throughout the rest of the park, and it wasn’t like one can was full and the others were empty.”
Jerry Titus, president of the KKOA, said the overflowing trash was not something the KKOA or the city anticipated. It’s just that the show was larger than predicted, as 1,557 custom cars and nearly 5,000 spectators filled the park.
Titus had planned on 1,200 cars for the Friday-Sunday show.
“I can’t blame the park’s department,” Titus said. “It caught them and us off guard. We ran out of T-shirts and the show expanded further into Oakdale than we expected. We thought it would go to the tennis courts, max.”
We needed more people
Park Superintendent Bob Ash said this was the case throughout the weekend.
Ash said the city used one person during previous KKOA events at Thomas Park to clean bathrooms and pick up trash. This year, it addded an employee to pick up trash, but it wasn’t enough.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Ash said. “I don’t think anyone expected the crowd, and we felt two full-time workers could handle it. We needed more people out there.”
LaForge said Oakdale was a major improvement over Thomas, but said he felt the city blew a perfect time to shine.
“People from out of town were not very impressed with the housekeeping parts, but the park was really nice,” LaForge said. “Unfortunately, they couldn’t spend money to make sure the venue had some pride.”
Titus said he has already talked with Steve Snyder, director of Salina’s parks and recreation department, about addressing the trash problem at an August meeting.
Ash said the KKOA did a good job of cleaning up trash after the event, but that it was not like the Smoky Hill River Festival where city workers get help from volunteers during the event. That can be looked at in the future, he said.
Titus said he heard more compliments that complaints about Oakdale Park from people at the show and in e-mails.
“Having the show in Oakdale was like stepping into a new world,” LaForge said. “It was really, really nice, and I was amazed because I had never seen it before.”
Titus said he believes the park could possibly see as many as 3,000 cars in the near future.
“Salina is getting well-known worldwide for being what we tagged it as: America’s hot-rodding playground,” Titus said. “I don’t like to paint a blue sky, but we have a tiger by the tail here.”
While he said he plans on coming back again, LaForge hopes trash is addressed.
“It is like having a wedding reception at home and getting everything nice then letting weeds grow up in your yard,” LaForge said. “You don’t spend money on a fancy party and scrimp on upkeep.”
nReporter Chris Hunter can be reached at 822-1422 or by e-mail at [email protected]