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News / Clark County News

Diggin’ Dozer Day

Event that puts kids at the controls draws 20,000 over two days

By Dave Kern
Published: May 17, 2010, 12:00am
2 Photos
Crowds get a close look at heavy equipment at the Cemex-Fisher Quarry on Sunday.
Crowds get a close look at heavy equipment at the Cemex-Fisher Quarry on Sunday. The weekend event attracted an estimated 20,000 people to Dozer Day. Photo Gallery

An estimated $100,000 was raised at this year’s Dozer Day and that money will go to the Vancouver Parks Foundation and children’s charitable groups. Grant applications will be accepted until June 15 at http://www.nutterfoundation.org.

The wee ones moved the earth at Dozer Day on Sunday and appeared to dig every minute of it.

Of course the big guys, professionals in the big arena of construction, were at the controls of more than 50 big rigs, but the children were right in the thick of the rousing rumblings.

Now six years old, Dozer Day is so popular that an estimated 20,000 paid to play over the weekend at the 77-acre Cemex-Fisher Quarry at 192nd Avenue and Brady Road.

An estimated $100,000 was raised at this year's Dozer Day and that money will go to the Vancouver Parks Foundation and children's charitable groups. Grant applications will be accepted until June 15 at http://www.nutterfoundation.org.

Cemex allows the Dozer Day event to use about 30 acres and huge ramps and landings allow visitors to walk into giant dump trucks laden with hay bales for the bumpy ride to the action.

At the site, children wait in line to help run the bulldozers and backhoes. Heck, there’s even a Campbell crane featuring a 150-foot boom with old glory atop.

Ken Nam, 33, of Salmon Creek focused his camera on his son, Noah, 4, as the boy helped Tony Barker, 34, of Battle Ground push a seven-foot mount of dirt. Then the boy moved next door to a backhoe run by Dick Murray, a retired construction worker from Washougal.

Asked why he volunteers for Dozer Day, this being his third year, Murray said, “Cause I love kids. I’ll do it as long as I can.”

Noah was asked what he liked best about the experience.

“Riding,” he said, and then he said it again. Asked his favorite thing, he pointed to the backhoe. Noah was joined at the event by his mom, Yonhui Kim, 33, and his brother, Sean, 2.

Nearby, Alicia Woodward of Happy Valley, Ore., said she missed last year’s event “by a week” and wasn’t about to miss it this year. (The event always is the third weekend in May).

Her son, Carson, 3, was hard at work.

What did he enjoy the most?

“To be honest, his favorite is sitting in this giant tire playing with dump trucks, digging in the dirt. Typical 3-year-old,” she said.

The kids weren’t the only ones having fun.

Dan Jones of Vancouver and his son, Randy, not only lifted kids into the seat of their conveyor truck, they revved up the conveyor and dumped wrapped candy onto a tarp as children filled up their plastic hard hats.

“The kids have a great time. They get so excited,” Dan Jones said.

Landscape company owner and volunteer Rick Gilbert said the event is a terrific community opportunity.

“You get a great cross section of people who never would have got up close and personal with a big piece of equipment,” he said.

His company, Landscape Management Services Inc., gave away Douglas fir seedlings. The Dozer Day map listed 208 vendors and participants.

Dozer Day is so big, there are about 70 sponsors and more than 800 volunteers. And there were giant tires to play in, enormous pipe sections to climb though and a sand pit.

Aimee Gebarowski, co-chairwoman of Dozer Day, which is put on by the Nutter Foundation, said she was proud that “everything was built for the event by Nutter Corp.”

Nutter Foundation President Renee Nutter was ecstatic on Sunday.

“Everybody’s smiling. … We keep the kids first. Look at ’em and see how much fun the kids are having.”

Last year the one-day event drew 16,000. The two-day event made for more manageable crowds. On Friday, Dozer Day hosted 1,000 Lunch Buddies and their adult friends.

The next big thing that comes from Dozer Day: the big concrete playground at the event has been donated to the Fruit Valley community.

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