Q and A: Back for round two with Dew DaysCome Friday, there will be lots of activities going on around town as part of the Dew Days celebration. Among them will be a horse race of sorts. The new event should be a hit – it’s organizer has had a pretty successful run with other events. Tim Carey is one of the original co-chairmen of the celebration now known as Dew Days.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Come Friday, there will be lots of activities going on around town as part of the Dew Days celebration. Among them will be a horse race of sorts.
The new event should be a hit – it’s organizer has had a pretty successful run with other events.
Tim Carey is one of the original co-chairmen of the celebration now known as Dew Days. He and former Farmington parks and recreation director Jim Bell served as co-chairs when Mountain Dew Days was conceived nearly three decades ago. This week, Tim talked with us about the past, present and future of his favorite celebration.
You were part of the part of the original Dew Days. Can you tell me a little bit about how Dew Days came to be?
I started on the park and rec department. We had ballfields that weren’t being used, we had parks, and a park system that was relatively new. The arena was there, and the pool was there, but being on the park and rec department wasn’t very much fun.… We kind of decided something fun should be done to start some community spirit. We started out with a letter of interest, and we got probably six or eight organizations to attend our first meeting.
We didn’t have any real plans. We had a new band director in town, and the band got very good, very fast. We wanted to build a parade around that. We wanted to have softball tournaments. We had gotten the idea for Mountain Dew Days from an article that was written in the paper that said Farmington drank more Mountain Dew per capita than anywhere else. We contacted Pepsi, they gave us $1,000 to get started.
Most things that we did were failures in previous years. We had had a few dances at the arena, they were all flops. The kiddie parade was pretty much nonexistent. Pretty much everything we came up with was old ideas revisited.
But a week before the first Dew Days, there was a terrible storm that came through. It just tore the hell out of downtown Farmington. Third Street looked like a war zone with all the trees torn down. It was terrible. Chainsaws ran 24/7 for a week. We discussed cancelling Mountain Dew Days, but we just decided that with a week, maybe we’d be ok.
By the next Friday night, all was ready. It just kind of jelled. We had a band down at the old fire hall, down where the senior center is now, and we didn’t know what to expect. Seven o’clock came and they just came out of the woodwork. We went through 23 kegs of beer, sold out all of the t-shirts we had ordered in about 15 or 20 minutes. Everything was just off to a great start.
Next day we had our first 5K race, we had about 50 to 60 runners. Now it’s about 3-400. We had something called Mock Olympics at FES.… Everything just fell into place. The kiddie parade was way better than it had been in the past. The next two or three years just really blew up.… We had a ball tournament. We’d never had a ball tournament at Feely Fields before.
That Saturday night, the police department had a chicken dinner at the arena. After that, we had a dance there. That dance had never worked out, but that night we had over 1,000 people there, in the arena.
The next day was the parade. I think we had 50 units in it, but we had six bands. I think that’s the most bands that have ever been in it…. Jim and I just went from Point A to Point B all week long.
When did you step back? You were a co-chair weren’t you?
Yep, for about seven years. Then there was time for new blood. They needed new ideas, new blood.
When did you start getting involved again?
Last year I helped with the kiddie races, and I’m not doing a whole lot more than that this year. We’re going to have the big wheel races and the horse races for the little bit bigger kids.
I have 3 and 5-year-old grandchildren, and when I got started before, I think my boys were 4 and 2. I think they should have something at least as fun as their dads had.
What is it, exactly, that you’re planning this year?
We have horse races. We have six four-foot high wooden horses, painted all different colors, and two dice. We’ll have a grid painted on the street. We’ll roll the dice and if the six comes up, the six horse moves ahead. Each of the horses have their silly names, that type of thing. We’ll put those on as long as the kids hang out, I guess.
Where did you come up with that one?
I saw it at a campground once. I got the stuff from the campers. The little kids love it.
Everyone has their own favorite memories of Dew Days. What is yours?
There was one time, on a Saturday afternoon, in the beer garden, I was the youngest guy with this group. There was John McQueen, Dan Nicolai, Fred Schmidtke, Earl Mapes.… I just sat around and listened to those guys talk for the afternoon. I learned more in one afternoon. It was a pretty fun afternoon. I probably got in trouble for it on the homefront, but it was a day I’ll never forget. I really enjoyed listening to those guys talk. And laugh. And tell stories.
I also enjoyed watching my boys grow up. Really, in the first couple of years when everything went well it was so much fun to sit back and say, god, that was the best thing we ever did. And then four hours later, it was, no, that was the best thing we ever did. If we had some flops, and I’m sure we did, you just forget those. But to walk into that arena on that first Saturday night and see 1,000 people when you were expecting maybe 200, it was incredible. That was pretty fun.
I think it’s amazing that the parade has never been cancelled or delayed due to rain, either. We’ve had some terrible looking skies, but it just would not rain on our parade.