‘It Is Probably Getting Too Big’: Parks Officials Seek To Control Size of Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny

Though Caffeine & Carburetors operates smoothly and safely, the auto enthusiast gathering has grown so popular that it’s reached a tipping point where controls on attendance must be considered, parks officials said this week.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

On the heels of a the largest-ever Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny—a gathering that saw an estimated 1,300-plus people attend—Park & Recreation Commission Chair Sally Campbell said Wednesday that “it is probably getting too big.”

“Things grow to a point and then you really have to look at them, and they have come to a point,” Campbell said during the group’s regular meeting, held at Lapham Community Center.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Launched six years ago as a modest gathering of specialty and antique car enthusiasts by New Canaan resident Doug Zumbach, the owner of the eponymous coffee shop on Pine Street, Caffeine & Carburetors swiftly outgrew its original location. It drew an estimated 400 cars in November 2013, and the following spring expanded to Elm Street downtown. It debuted at Waveny that fall of 2014, and parks officials approved two events downtown and two at the park for 2015.

Zumbach provides liability insurance and $1,000 cleanup bond, secures permits to sell coffee, communicates with participants via the event’s website and Facebook page, pays for all police who help manage the show, recruits, outfits and trains volunteers who help with parking and sees to it that Waveny is cleaned up quickly and completely after Caffeine & Carburetors is finished.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

He has used the event to support local nonprofit organizations when the opportunity arises, and collects perishable items for the New Canaan Food Pantry from those exhibiting their vehicles as well as spectators.

Recreation Director Steve Benko noted during the meeting that those in attendance were well-behaved and also that “it was huge.”

“We probably had 1,500 cars in the park, between exhibit cars and people parking,” Benko said.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

He added: “People behaved, it was we had the drought so cars parked on the grass, but it was a lot of people, a lot of cars.”

Commissioner Matt Konspore said the strong turnout was the result of “a 70-degree day.”

“It was absolutely gorgeous,” Konspore said. “The stars were aligned.”

Konspore wondered how feasible it was, logistically, to limit the number of people who attend the gatherings. He suggested introducing a $10 fee for those who come to Caffeine & Carburetors as a donation to the Waveny Park Conservancy (to which Zumbach already has contributed).

The move could effectively limit attendance, Benko said.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

“If you charged a $10 admission fee it would reduce the number of people,” Benko said.

Campbell opened the possibility of charging more money for those exhibiting their vehicles, citing the Concours D’Elegance.

Konspore responded that Caffeine & Carburetors is different because no cars are judged or recognized with trophies.

“This is a get-together,” he said.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

Campbell responded: “But many parks will not let you have get-togethers, we just happen to be kind of a nice town that’s lets people have get-togethers and among the few get-togethers we allow, this is one of the big ones.”

She added: “I think it is only fair to revisit it. If it is going to continue to get bigger, we need to put some controls in place.”

The 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors season is over and the event’s organizers will need approval from town officials to bring it back next year. Park & Rec’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7.

10 thoughts on “‘It Is Probably Getting Too Big’: Parks Officials Seek To Control Size of Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny

  1. Geeze, it was the final meet-up of the season, which I assume is part of the reason it was so big- not to mention fantastic weather as well. Charging admission would totally change the feel of this event. There was nothing out of control about it, let’s be realistic; as long as public safety is not being hindered then I don’t think controls are necessary.

  2. The event is successful from every point of view. I do not begin to understand the mentality that wants to undermine success.

  3. How utterly sad and ferocious. By the very fact of the tremendous turn out, it is obvious that this is exactly the type of event P& R should be seeking. Admission charge? Why? What is it costing the town if Doug is paying for everything? What, exactly is wrong with a large turn out? How many people and cars attend the Independence day festivities? Please, get past your collective negativity and embrace this incredibly popular event. With any degree of insight, merchants in the town should recognize the potential for a fantastic opportunity to increase their sales on that day.

  4. Why do unelected people in political power think that they have to right to regulate everything? C & C is a wonderful event. Everyone is well-behaved. It costs the town nothing. Parks and Recreation Commission needs to leave it alone.

  5. It’s a winner for every one.”we just happen to be kind of a nice town that’s lets people have get-togethers and among the few get-togethers we allow, this is one of the big ones”. Exactly right, and if anything, this is the best show-case of how great NC is and can be! I’m not even a car enthusiast, but can only speak to the outstanding organization and ‘vibe’ at the last two events – – a fantastic show case for our town and people. Our town leaders and P&R should shower the organizers with support and allowances. Let’s not work to limit the event, but to keep it going with support and smart allocations from Town Hall and beyond. If anything, we ought to tie-in more NC showcasing, i.e merchants, local vendors, real-estate brokers, etc.

  6. C & C is a nice event but it adversely impacted the surrounding neighborhood with excessive noise and exhaust fumes. I walked the circumference of Waveny Park the morning of the event and literally needed earplugs and gas mask from the cars driving around the area– they didn’t just pull in and park. The cars are vintage so fumes remind you of why we have regulations on current model vehicles. And several, if not many, had non-street legal mufflers that generated ear-splitting levels of noise as they circled the neighborhood either giving rides to friends and spectators or just parading around. If residents and contractors have to comply with noise ordinances on Sunday morning, the C & C participants should also. I don’t support cancelling the event but definitely support some limitations.

  7. As a owner of a business in downtown New Canaan, I would like to share how having a show like C&C has created a busy Sunday that otherwise would not be as busy. I also did open at 8 am onetime to sell breakfast sandwiches, Impressively I sold over 400 breakfast sandwiches. I want to see this show continue for all to enjoy. We have something special in New Canaan, let’s keep it that way.

  8. I have to say how disappointed I am to hear that Caffeine and Carburetors must go in front of the Parks and Recreation and ask permission to continue. If I recall Waveny is a public park. Is it fair to ask for a payment from the founder of Caffeine and Carburetors? Does everyone else wanting to have a event at Waveny have to go in front of the board? The idea of a donation towards the Waveny conservatory is ok but shouldn’t anyone enjoying the benefits of Waveny like The joggers, the dog park members and out of town residents make a donation? It’s seems there is a double standard here so get off your power ego trip and leave well enough alone.

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