KellerFEST Carnage

A tale of wind, rain, mud, twisted metal, sweat, sunburn, and heatstroke avoidance…

For the past three years Keller’s CERT has put in an appearance at KellerFEST.  Mainly we’re there for minor first aid and whatever other support may be needed (usually this means hanging out at the barricade and verifying that people trying to drive in front of the town hall really have a reason to be there and aren’t just looking for a parking space).  This year, however, turned out to be different.

Most of the vendors who set up on the lawn used either EZ-Up or FirstUP tents (the kinds with the metal collapsing accordion frames).  The thunderstorm that rolled through on Sunday morning made quite a mess of these, as it appears that an EZ-Up becomes a kite in 60mph winds if it isn’t very securely anchored.

The call went out at about 9:30 on Sunday morning for CERT members to come to KellerFEST to assist the vendors in salvaging their equipment, or at least try to mitigate the safety hazards.  After a safety / incident briefing at 10:15, we set out to assist the vendors.  Mainly this consisted of helping them disassemble their mangled EZ-Ups to the point where they could be carted off to the dumpster.  I would estimate that 25-30 EZ-Ups were destroyed, and we had a large construction dumpster full of mangled metal remains at the end of the day. 

The day had started overcast, but by 11:30am had cleared and we were exposed to the full sun as well as the full effects of the humidity rolling up off the over-saturated ground.  By this time we were also assisting some vendors move their tents (those that had survived) from the mudhole of the west lawn over to the traffic circle.

By about 2:00pm, the worst of it had been handled, and we were able to take a break.  I found that between the sun, the humidity, and wearing my vest that I was just about as soaked as if I’d been caught in the rain.  Further, despite applying sunscreen on several occasions, I was still burned in a few places. 

Anyhow, a few interesting things come to mind after considering what we encountered:

  – First, anyone with a big, heavy piece of equipment (such as a Harley motorcycle) should never be allowed to set up on the lawn.  It took two KPD officers and me to push that monster across the lawn, through the mudhole, and back onto the pavement.

  – Because of fear of damage to the lawn due to the water and mud, the organizers weren’t allowing golf carts onto the grass.  This meant that in many cases vendors (and us on their behalf) had to hand carry items from the old location to the new.  At one point we had a team of 8 people moving someone’s junk (she had a ton of metal items she was selling).  I remain unconvinced that a golf cart would do more damage that 8 people making 5 round trips each. 

  – It might be good to have someone designated as a safety officer to check on people’s tents for obvious hazards before opening.  Someone on the east side of the circle was using gallon cans of oil-based deck stain to hold down his tent.  Not only did the tent blow away completely, the cans came open, spilling the stain not only on his tables and equipment, but splashing it on other tents as well.

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