Behind Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest

Although I let my work consume my time and my youngest see's me as someone who likes to work.  I do take pride in being a part of this once a year mountain bike festival. With roughly 2,000+ attendees and over 50 exhibitors this festival takes multiple hands and hundreds of hours to pull off. There's also 10+kegs and 300+ cases of beer, sponsored rides to organize and make sure they happen, let's not even start on all the permits and policies we have to follow in order to keep this festival going on federal land.

My major role in this festival is the exhibitor area. Laying it out, sponsorships, happy hours, helping companies make a brand impact, etc. But overall, my goal is to help encourage people to ride and keep the industry growing. More people on bikes is a good thing.

Everything starts about two months after the festival ended the year before. Setting dates, getting permits signed, answering companies questions on nabbing a sponsorship before it sells out. When you think everything is done and ready to go, a wrench will be thrown in and all your plans will go haywire. I would assume that is norm for most large festivals.

Thursday morning I get my kids on the bus, grandma has been properly bribed and will be beyond exhausted by Sunday night. Set off to drop off the dog and pay the dog boarding place a decent chunk of change. Than motor to the festival location to handle all the exhibitors as they role in.

We throw an exhibitor party Thursday night. Its suppose to be on a boat but this year the weather prevented that from happening and we had a gathering on main land. Unfortunately I did not make it down to the party, with a handful of exhibitors still in route I had to man my station. Plus, now that the fest was finally here exhaustion set in and my bed roll was calling me.

Friday morning, it continues. Exhibitors roll in. Parking masters of giant rigs into tiny spaces. Trying to get a hold of others to move their trucks just a few inches so someone else can get in their spot. Talking to folks who are unhappy with their location and apologizing for it not being what they really wanted. Attendees start to roll in by Friday morning, trying their best to not bother the exhibitors.

We, meaning the man I'll refer to as Oz, somehow managed to pull together a bike wash so exhibitors could continue to get their bikes out on trails that were still muddy from Friday's pop-up crushing storm. We found missing kegs for happy hours and managed to not evict any exhibitors for their out of control shenanigans (after-all this is Dirt Fest).

Without our champion volunteer crew we would be lost and this festival would not happen. They spend countless unpaid hours dealing with drunk questions and the results of bad decisions. Their leader Oz handles all injuries, late night idiocy, ems and much, much more. He gives me a heads up when exhibitors might be towed or evicted, so I can try and prevent anything negative from happening to my exhibitors. Yes, they are mine. For at least those few days I take a personal mother-like role for their well being and needs. Its hard to make everyone happy but I do my best, in the end we are all just trying to do our job and enjoy working in this fun industry.

I would call it a very successful event this year. Happy faces, minimal injuries, a happy town that loves that early tourism traffic and a great crew that made it all happen.


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