tent camp­ing at texas Heat Wave voted down

County, event of­fi­cials still sign 2-year deal for car, truck show

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By suzan­nah Gon­za­les

Or­ga­niz­ers of one of the coun­try’s largest cus­tom truck and car shows would like to al­low overnight tent camp­ing to help boost at­ten­dance, but Travis County com­mis­sion­ers voted against the idea Tues­day.

Af­ter a closed-door dis­cus­sion, com­mis­sion­ers voted 3-0 to pro­hibit tent camp­ing at Texas Heat Wave and di­rected staff to re­view the county’s

‘I just feel that we’re be­ing tar­geted for one in­ci­dent that hap­pened. We didn’t do any­thing wrong. Some­one who came to the event did some­thing wrong.’

DAVID MACDONALD

Texas Heat Wave

poli­cies on camp­ing at events. Com­mis­sion­ers Ron Davis and Mar­garet Gómez were ab­sent for the vote. Later, county and event of­fi­cials signed a two-year con­tract for Texas Heat Wave to be held at the Travis County Ex­po­si­tion Cen­ter on July 23-25 this year and July 22-24, 2011. RVs will be al­lowed.

Com­mis­sioner Sarah Eck­hardt said the an­nual event is not “fam­ily friendly” — some women wear biki­nis — and noted there was a sex­ual as­sault at the event sev­eral years ago.

“I just feel that we’re be­ing tar­geted for one in­ci­dent that hap­pened. We didn’t do any­thing wrong. Some­one who came to the event did some­thing wrong,” said David MacDonald of Texas Heat Wave. He asked com­mis­sion­ers why camp­ing is al­lowed at the expo cen­ter for the

Con­tin­ued from B1 Re­pub­lic of Texas Biker Rally.

“I agree — this is a lack of pol­icy on our part,” Eck­hardt said.

“As long as any other event is do­ing camp­ing, we should have the same right,” MacDonald said. “It’s not against the law for a fe­male to wear what she chooses to wear.”

Heat Wave, go­ing on 21 years, has been held at the expo cen­ter for the past 14 years, ex­cept in 2001, when it moved to the Dell Di­a­mond, which doesn’t al­low tent camp­ing, he said. Tent camp­ing at the event was avail­able from the first year un­til 2000.

The event at­tracts thou­sands of peo­ple ev­ery year — there were 35,000 in 2005 — and will in­clude the fastest mon­ster truck on dis­play and hy­draulic and wet T-shirt con­tests this year.

But MacDonald said at­ten­dance has dropped re­cently as the econ­omy soured, and many peo­ple said they would at­tend the event if they could camp.

He hoped al­low­ing tent camp­ing at the event would in­crease at­ten­dance.

“We’re not ask­ing to throw a party; we’re just ask­ing for camp­ing … a place for peo­ple to stay,” MacDonald said.

The county’s five-year con­tract for the ROT Rally does not in­clude a no-tent camp­ing pro­vi­sion like Heat Wave’s con­tract, ac­cord­ing to Roger El Khoury, the county’s fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment di­rec­tor.

MacDonald said he would con­tinue press­ing the is­sue with com­mis­sion­ers.

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