Testy Parks Officials Critical of ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ at Waveny

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During a testy meeting last week, parks officials said the ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ auto enthusiasts’ gathering at Waveny in June violated several of the conditions established for the event.

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

Though the June 17 show “was very well attended and it was a beautiful day” and “people seemed to really enjoy it,” still some members of the Parks & Recreation Commission “were concerned that some of the procedures we asked to be put in place were not followed,” Commission Chair Sally Campbell said Wednesday night.

“We had some controls over who was coming and exhibiting cars, and we wanted to ensure that our fields and our park weren’t damaged and then we were concerned about safety,” Campbell said at the meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “All of these are very correctable. But we just wanted to bring them up because we thought they were very important.”

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

According to Campbell, about half of the exhibitors who had registered in advance did not display show placards on their windshields, many spectators appeared to drive into Waveny by South Avenue instead of parking at New Canaan High School, as planned, exhibitor cars were parked in front of the footpath along the main road through Waveny, forcing pedestrian traffic into the roadway and unauthorized food trucks were selling food and creating a mess.

In response, the event’s founder and operator, New Canaan resident Doug Zumbach, noted that it was difficult once show cars entered Waveny to track them all the way to parking spots with placards in windshields, that an unscheduled, well-attended playoff baseball game was taking place at the same time as C&C, bringing non-exhibitor-car motor vehicles into the park, and that he and other show organizers had walked through the area a few days before the event and had come to understand that it was OK for show cars to park on either side of the pedestrian footpath.

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

The next C&C at Waveny is planned for Oct. 21. Launched on Pine Street outside Zumbach’s eponymous coffee shop, C&C now is held four times per year—twice in Waveny and twice downtown—and draws thousands of people to New Canaan. Zumbach pays for insurance and police so that the event can run, has set it up to benefit local organizations and makes donations to the community himself.

When Campbell said there need to be signs directing spectators to park at NCHS for the Waveny show, Zumbach commended CERT for helping in this regard and noted that there was, in fact, a sign directing motorists there.

Campbell responded, “I went by and I did not see it so maybe next time it needs to be more visible, OK?”

When Zumbach noted that he can’t legally stop motorists from entering a public park, Campbell responded, “Well, you are going to have to figure out a way to do that.”

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

Zumbach said, “I can’t. I’m not allowed. It’s not my park. I’m just saying it’s a public park. If someone wants to use the soccer fields or [platform] tennis courts or dog park—”

Campbell interjected: “We can put up signs for people who want to use the park that they can swing around and park in the dog park.”

Regarding the food truck, Zumbach noted that the vendor had gone through the town to get proper permitting and that he thought the recreation director had OK’d the truck. 

Campbell said that while the food truck was on site, a mess began to materialize because “they did not have adequate trash, they just didn’t.”

Zumbach began to respond, “We cleared the park up—“

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

Campbell interjected: “I didn’t say that you didn’t. I just saying it was really unsightly and I’m not saying you were not a good steward in cleaning up the park. But first of all, I don’t think we would approved a food truck and we were surprised it was there.”

When Zumbach asked why C&C couldn’t allow a food truck in Waveny when they’re allowed in for other events, Campbell responded: “Because we can choose to what allow what is in the park and we didn’t want to make it very commercial, we want it very low key.”

Zumbach started to say, “That doesn’t make sense to me—”

Scenes from the June 17, 2018 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

Campbell interjected: “But that is the choice of the Commission.”

Commissioner Francesca Segalas added: “It should just have come up. [You] should let us know, so we can approve or disapprove.”

When Zumbach said the official count of show cars was 723, Campbell responded that the limit was to be 700 and so he must “figure out how to manage” the total figure better “in your software.”

Zumbach and Campbell agreed to meet again prior to the October C&C. 

Campbell said: “I think we all need to be consistent on this, to make sure events are safe and as well run as they can be, OK?”

6 thoughts on “Testy Parks Officials Critical of ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ at Waveny

  1. The Commission has got to treat all groups equally. The night of the 4th of July started great but it was a disaster at the end as there was no traffic or crowd control as people in cars and on foot tried to exit. Twice we got food spilled on us as unsupervised children raced around with food and drink, dropping trash wherever. Even though, people say what a great night it was…just like they say what a great day it was with Carburetors. It would have appeared that the 4th was allowed to close the park to all others uses, shut down the fields etc. If that is what the Commission wanted for them and allowed for them, then they can and should do the same for other events held there as well.

  2. If the park was left in the same state after the event that it was before the event, I don’t see what the commission is whining about. And the park should not be closed to joggers, pool users, dog park users or anybody else. Keep it simple. 4th of July is an exception because it can be dangerous with pyrotechnics. Lastly, Campbell needs to take a chill pill.

  3. Our Commissioners were well within their rights as the stewards of our public lands to say and do everything they did. The word “testy,” it seems to me, belongs more to Mr. Zumbach, whose reactions and comments portray to this reader an appalling sense of entitlement.

  4. Baloney. Sally Campbell has some sort of axe to grind, given the tone and texture of her comments. Would have responded as Doug Zumbach did and then some.

  5. It’s not “YOUR” park. It’s every person that pays property tax’s park. It’s incredible what small people with a tiny, tiny, bit of power, will say and do. “”Campbell responded: “Because we can choose to what allow what is in the park.”” This is insanity. Are you a servant of the people? The dialogue certainly sounds like your take on your councilman position, is you lord over the people. You don’t. Vote this guy out.

  6. This seems so ridiculous on many levels. C&C is a great and truly unique event event that gets better every time it’s run and elevates our town like no
    other. Doug has created this really incredible event that brings people into NC who otherwise might not ever see the true scope of what we have to offer. The fact that it is held outside of downtown makes no sense to me at all. While Waveny is a great destination, I believe it benefits the town and it businesses much more to hold the event where people can see the great stores and restaurants we have. It is not only a great show but a business building event in a town that could certainly use an infusion of new shoppers, diners and potential home buyers. Staging it at Waveny does not help our businesses or elevate the town. It only keeps potential business away from where we really need it, in front of and inside our shops.

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