MOREAU — Betar Recreational Park was overwhelmed by campers last weekend for the Calico Dancers Good Time Pow Wow, park workers told the Town Board.
“They are much larger than they led us to believe,” Building and Grounds Working Supervisor David Jones said.
A softball tournament was also held during the Pow Wow, and the confluence of the two stretched the park’s resources. But Jones said the problems seemed to stem from those who wanted to camp.
“A lot of them were not participants, not involved in the dancing, just there to camp,” he said.
Vehicles overflowed onto irrigated playing fields, where they had been specifically forbidden. Toilets clogged. The campers tried to draw so much electricity that the breakers kept tripping.
At one point, so many people were in the park that they created their own parking lot on a playing field.
Jones set up barricades to stop that.
Participants ran out of places to camp as well.
“They got so big that at one point (organizer) Nancy Salazar was directing people to set up in the Little League parking lot,” Jones said. “This Pow Wow got so large that we could not contain them to the non-irrigated areas. They did encroach on the irrigated fields.”
There were 32 campsites on those fields Saturday, he said, and many of those parked vehicles at their site.
“We agreed if there was room on the non-irrigated portion, they could keep their vehicle,” he said.
But in the end, only four vehicles were parked in the lots.
“The rest were on the fields, including the irrigated fields,” he said.
Some campers used tents, but others used RVs.
Jones was frustrated that the rules agreed to in advance did not seem to be followed during the event.
“We had multiple discussions about where to park,” he said. “But people started basically setting up their own parking lot on the irrigated field.”
The organizers told the board in advance that about 100 people stay overnight. While Jones said the park ran out of space for campers, he counted 55 camps in the park. Those numbers appear to equal the 100 campers described by the organizers.
But it was hard to keep track of them. Most campers did not display the color-coded car permits that were supposed to designate whether they had permission to stay overnight, Jones said.
He had an electrician look at the park’s outlets to determine why the breakers tripped so often during the event.
“It was not an electrical problem, but a draw problem,” he said. “They were running refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners.”
The good news, Jones said, was that was no lasting damage resulted. No irrigation heads were damaged.
“And I think the grass will come back,” he said. “We have a lot of matted grass.”
When Town Board members criticized the event earlier this year, saying they wanted to have firm rules before allowing it to run again, they were deluged with angry comments from organizers. Local families have put on the Pow Wow for 44 years.
Jones said he took care to be as courteous as possible during the event, and at Tuesday’s report to the board, he specifically said the group should be allowed to return next year.
“This is the first time we’ve asked them to follow a program. We can grow off it,” he said.
Supervisor Todd Kusnierz agreed.
“It sounds like there’s certainly room for improvement in how we structure the event,” he said.