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by Dave ‘Coonbottom” O’Kane

by Dave “Coonbottom” O’Kane

“Seven dollars! Y’all getting a little greedy don’t ya think?” I remember it felt like highway robbery when admission to the local mud bog jumped from $3 to $7. How much could it possibly cost to leave a few flood lights on and run a water hose?

As I pulled into my normal parking spot to watch the action, I swore I’d stop going to mud bogs if it ever cost more than $15. Funny how sometimes you have to eat your words. Now, having to pay “only” $30 (compared to $100 plus for a VIP ticket) seems like a great deal!

As with any other activity, the more people that get involved and show up, the more opportunities there are to make money. Commercialism has found its way even into mud-bogging.

I’ve seen it change from perhaps having just one person selling food at an event to an entire area devoted to vendors selling all types of merchandise. It seems the allure of just going to the pond is not what it used to be. Now, in order to attract a crowd, there has to be a bounty hole, a tug-of-war, a race or some other event the average 4x4 simply can’t compete in.

Listening to a live band or watching ladies ride a mechanical bull makes the weekend more exciting, and having these “extras” brings in the crowd, which in turn brings in the money.

Lately, I’ve been hearing more folks complaining about the price of getting into an organized mudding event. Why are owners getting so greedy and cashing in anyway they can? Times are tough on everyone, so having to pay more for something that seems pretty cheap just doesn’t seem fair. Or does it?

I recently took the opportunity to talk to some of the people running some of the venues in order to get their side of the story. Whether it was a large or small bog, organizers all cited the same main cost – insurance – and complained about the cost and aggravation of getting and keeping it. I was shocked to learn just how much it cost to put on one event. The prices seem unreal.

And that wasn’t the only big expense owners deal with. Unseen costs include: permitting, staffing fees, port-a-pot rentals, heavy equipment costs (renting, leasing or purchasing and operating) and materials (dirt to re-fill pits). Of course, you can’t forget the cost of paying for security – which can be upwards of five figures!

These are all things the average bogger or fan doesn’t think about when pulling up to the gate.

Josh Wheeler, one of the promoters for Triple Canopy Ranch, says it cost upwards of $100,000 to re-build portions of the man-made park when it was washed away. “As a promoter, it is a challenge to set up the vendors and organize special events like races. That time costs money also,” Wheeler said.

John Knight at Pudding Creek in Perry explained there are hundreds of man hours and high costs associated with putting on a three-day event. “Owning a mud bog is not a money-making operation. I still drive a 1994 pick up for a reason,” he said.

The costs are still high for even smaller mud bogs that don’t draw crowds in the thousands. Shelia, with Crooked Creek Mud Bog, said they opened the bog just so people had a place to enjoy coming out and slinging some mud, adding it was never set up to make money.

After talking to several other owners and promoters, I heard the same story of how big of a headache and how much hard work and long hours are put in to get a venue set up for a weekend.

Even after the last truck is finally loaded up and the weekend is over, staff still faces clean-up and maintenance.

What if the crowd is thin? The fixed costs are the same, regardless if 2,000 people or only 200 show up. It goes without saying no one can afford to lose money for very long in this economy.

Sadly, the days of the $3 mud-bog are long gone. Sure, there might be a few small bogs scattered around where there aren’t rows of vendors, and bogging is the only action going on, but even they have to pay their light bill.

So, the next time you’re in line waiting to get in, don’t cringe when you reach for your wallet. Instead, smile and be glad there are still people out there willing to work hard to provide us legal places to play.

Driver of the Month

This month’s Woods ‘n Water “Driver of the Month” is Ross Francisco, the owner and driver of “ROSS-MITE.”

Ross’ truck is a 2.5 ton, 2006 Chevrolet sitting on 14.9-24s. At its heart is a 588-cubic-inch engine built by Central Florida Machine and Speed.

Saying this truck “gets up and goes” would be an understatement. As these photos (by Kima’s Mud Dawgs) show, Ross-Mite flies – literally! RossMite is not your typical bog truck.

The truck was built for racing and obstacle course freestyle. It was only natural that Ross gravitated to mud racing 5-6 years ago after his background in other forms of racing. “I’ve always been into racing. I had an S-10 drag truck, and it kind of went from there,” Ross said.

You can catch Ross-Mite in action at Hog Waller Nationals in Palatka March 26-27 (see page 65). Ross-Mite is sponsored by Francisco Body Shop out of Lakeland and Chop Fabrication, LLC.

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March 4-6 - Triple Canopy Ranch ATV Redneck Nationals

ATV owners can compete for up to $10,000 in cash and prizes in this point series event being held throughout the Southeastern U.S. and being powered by Can-Am. It’s easy to qualify, and there will be tons of fun with various “Redneck Games” to be held throughout the weekend. Register today at www.ATVRedneckNationals.com.

March 5 & 19 – Auggie Bog April 2 & 16 – Auggie Bog

St. Augustine Raceway will hold one-day Auggie Bog events on the first and third Saturdays of the month (March 5 and 19, April 2 and 16). Primitive camping will be available on Friday night prior to each of the events, which are open to mud trucks and ATVs. Campers can enter after 4 p.m. on Friday. Gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is $15 per person (kids under 10 free). Auggie Bog now has 300 additional acres set aside for ATVs. For more info (including entertainment), visit www.AuggieBog.com, see ad on page 66, email [email protected] or call (904) 868-9740 for details!

March 11-13 – Puddin’ Creek 3rd annual TGW Family Reunion

The 3rd annual TGW Dysfunctional Family Reunion returns to Perry, Fla. on March 11-13.

March 18-20 – Triple Canopy Ranch ATV/UTV Only Weekend

TCR offers ATV and UTV owners the “Run of the Park” during exclusive ATV/UTV-only weekends. No Membership is required, and the entire park is open from Friday at 3 p.m. until Sunday at 4 p.m.

(For the rest of this month's scheduled events pick up the current issue of Woods 'n Water Magazine.)

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For more in-depth off-road coverage, pick up this month's issue of Woods 'n Water, click on our forums page http://www.woodsnwater.net/forums for the "Offroad" section and be sure to visit http://www.woodsnwater.net/boggin for awesome video and photos of recent events around the South!