It’s a sleepy quiet Monday in Syracuse Kansas. You would never know that the town was slammed with sand rails and campers and people! So many people! City Administrator Brian Bloyd estimates there was 3500 to 4000 people. And so polite and respectful!
In case you missed the news, last weekend Syracuse hosted a brand new event when a large group of sand park enthusiasts descended upon Syracuse with high end sand rails, campers from Denver, Arizona and Utah. Three bands came in to perform a concert at the fairgrounds as well.
Bloyd said, “It was an awesome weekend! We deposited $26,280 and had around $2000 in expenses. So, $24,280 in OHV permits, day passes, camping fees, and accessories. We sold 900 OHV permits.It was exciting to see that the park could handle such a large crowd and with a few improvements we plan to make the check-in process more streamlined and easier to manage.”
“We wanted to put Syracuse Sand Dunes on the map for off roaders,” said Pedro Medellin, Jr., one of the organizers and promoters for the weekend event. Their name is Los Tequileros and they are local.
Luis Perea, Cesar Leyva, Loy Maravilla, Angelica Sena, Lauren Durler, Brooke Medellín
“It was our crew and also Luis Aguilera and Jesus Pérez helped us put this together and helped clean up."
This was the first event they have put together. Medillin said, “As the Tequileros we are very new. We really got into the side by side stuff about a year ago. We formed our Los Tequileros group at an event that ToyCo put together in New Mexico that we all attended.
I think it went well this weekend. We had a bigger turn out then what anyone expected and despite there being more people everything went smoothly. We were all very pleased at how everyone behaved. There weren’t any real incidents that I’m aware of. Of course in any group there is always a few issues but the local police did their part in keeping those people in check.”
He added, “What we were most excited about was the businesses that benefited from this event. Our idea in doing all of this was to bring people that have never heard of the Syracuse Sand Park and have them realize what we have here and create more revenue for the community. That was really the main goal- to put Syracuse on the map in the off road community. Everyone that I talked to had fun and loved it and said they would be back soon.”
Attendees included people from New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Utah. Locals prepared the area by cleaning up trash at the Sand Dunes campground and Sams Pond area. They picked up eight 50 gallon bags of trash around the pond and bridge area and two 50 gallon bags in the dunes. After the weekend, they picked up five 50 gallon bags in the camping/bridge/pond area and two 50 gallon bags in the Dunes.
Medellin appreciated the support of Ty Fullmer, Johnny TeVelde and Mark Davis.
Boarders Inn and Suites manager Cassy Thompson said, “It was incredibly busy. We sold out of rooms but people continued calling all weekend for more rooms.”
Lakin’s Cobblestone Inn, a sister hotel, also sold out due to the event as well as our bed and breakfasts.
On Friday night, a caravan from the Sand Dunes to the Fairgrounds was led by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and it continued on for a couple of hours. Security and parking attendants kept the event organized.
Families and friends gathered to have a few drinks and enjoy the beautiful night of music.
On Saturday, more vehicles came in throughout the day and night. Many cruised through the town .
Griselda Sigala said there was a two hour wait to get into the Sand Dunes.
As I interviewed area businesses still recovering from the Covid lockdown last year, the numbers were a welcome breath of fresh air.
Business after business commented that people were patient with the longer lines. Bumper to Bumper sold over 200 flags. Napa reported doing four to five times the business it normally does on a weekend.
All the convenience stores lauded the tourism. “My order will be double next year from what it normally is,” said Love’s Manager Shylah Booker.
“People were so respectful and kind. Everybody was so kind! And we were busy. It was a great weekend” Eagle manager Lacy Roberts said, “It was double a normal weekend. The fuel pumps were two and three deep all the way to the light. It was awesome Please come back next year!”
While the grocery store was busier than a normal weekend it wasn’t more than a holiday weekend.
Pedro Perez remarked,”Many commented they didn’t know we had a grocery store so next time they won’t pack up so much. They will buy it here.”
Gayl Lorimer said, “I think it was amazing. I was in awe of how many sand rails there were and can’t wait for it to happen again.”
Syracuse Sand Dunes board member David Stimatze smiled, “I hope we see it like that again. That’s what I envisioned when I got on the board was seeing it like that - a benefit to the community.”
Sheriff Mike Wilson reported, “Overall the weekend went really well with the amount of people that turned out for the event. No accidents were reported during the event. We had assistance from the Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Wildlife and Parks. Numerous traffic stops were conducted with citations ranging from DUI, Transportation of Open Container, Stop Sign Violations, Attempting to Flee and Elude an officer, and Violating Park Rules.”
As with anything new, there were some complaints of disrespectful motorists and rudeness. But the overall impression left on the community was positive.
Others benefited too. The theatre had over a hundred people come watch Godzilla vs. Kong over the holiday weekend.
On Sunday morning the fairgrounds were inspected and they were spotless. The Dirty Boys thanked everyone at Syracuse for the hospitality. “We would like to thank all the local businesses, everyone at the fair grounds for the location and a huge thank you to the sheriff’s department for all the hard work and long hours they had to work.“
Businesses are alreadyplanning how to change things up for next year. How to add services, products, and stock their inventory to be prepared.
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