Dozer Day record demolished

Event where kids help operate construction machinery draws its biggest crowd yet

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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photoHayden Sloan, 6, of Battle Ground emerges from a pipe in a castle sponsored by Hanson Pipe & Precast at Dozer Day on Sunday.

(/The Columbian)

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More than $100,000 was raised at this year’s Dozer Day and that money will go to local children’s charitable groups. Grant applications will be accepted until June 15 at http://nutterfoundation.org.

The Nutter family started its heavy construction business in 1992 and Nutter Corporation is at 7211 N.E. 43rd Ave. The company does excavation, grading and underground utilities; see them online at http://nuttercorp.com.

Dozer Day, where kids are king on giant machines, just keeps getting more popular.

An estimated 24,600 folks of all sizes got down in the dirt over the weekend at the 77-acre Cemex/Fisher Quarry at 192nd Avenue, just off state Highway 14. That’s a record for the 7-year-old event.

The Nutter Foundation puts on the big show with help from dozens of sponsors and 900 volunteers.

The pipe castle was a huge attraction at the Saturday-Sunday extravaganza. And why not? Kids could crawl through five pipes and three manholes. There were some portholes to spy through, too.

“Overall, it’s 75 tons of concrete,” said Ron Sparks of Hockinson. He is the West Coast sales manager for Hanson Pipe & Precast. It took three days to put the play structure together, with help from Campbell Crane and Nutter Corporation.

The pipes were 50 feet long and 42 inches in diameter. The manholes were 8-feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.

“Thirty kids a minute,” Sparks said as he encouraged wee ones to take the slide off of the castle. “We’re counting for fun. Kids are going five, 10, 15 times,” he said smiling.

“This is my first time (at Dozer Day),” said Desiree Nielsen of Camas. “It’s awesome.” She was urging 2-year-old Cate to come to the slide as the youngster was paused mid-pipe. Desiree was there with husband, Rob, 4-year-old Carys, and her mom, Angela Rosamond. “It’s a family sport,” she said of watching the girls have a ball.

Scott Kovalik of Fisher’s Landing was having fun with his family of four and his mother-in-law. Daughter Teã, 8, was waiting at a bulldozer.

“I’ve been on the crane,” Teã said. “I got to beep the horn.” That crane rises 198 feet into the sky. She also got to drive, with a little help, a backhoe. “It collected a lot of dirt,” she explained.

This was the first Dozer Day experience for the Kovalik family and Scott Kovalik said, “It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”

Volunteers are crucial for the event to happen.

“These kids are awesome,” said Ron King of Battle Ground. He’s with 3 Kings Environmental and happily showed youngsters how to work a backhoe.

“I love the kids,” said Dave Core of Vancouver. He usually sells big equipment for Peterson Cat on Portland’s Columbia Boulevard but was at the controls of a bulldozer on Sunday. “I do one (child) every two minutes,” he said, chuckling.

Yellow plastic Dozer Days toy hard hats were everywhere.

Aimee Gebarowski of Nutter Foundation said nearly 12,000 were ordered.

“One of the things we do best is identify perfect partners,” Gebarowski said, After all, there are were more than 50 big machines and at least 100 vendors and sponsors.

“We’re all in this community together,” Gebarowski said.

She said overcast weather was a blessing because hot temperatures in past years have been hard on many little visitors. And there were plenty of little ones in strollers.

“Everyone has such a terrific time,” said Renee Nutter, co-owner of the company with husband, Jerry. She called upon son Jerry, 14, and daughter Sammi, 11, to help with the event.

Every year the Nutter Foundation donates a park to the community and this year’s recipient is the Vancouver Housing Authority for a park in the Skyline Crest development in McLoughlin Heights.

And, yes, Dozer Day will be back for an eighth time next year during the third weekend in May.

Dave Kern: 360-735-4534 or dave.kern@columbian.com