What started off as a redneck party has turned into a major annual event in Canal Flats.
The third annual Mowers and Music event takes place at the Flats RV and Campground each spring. It has been a remarkable growth for the event in a couple short years. The first year, coordinator Kelly Kask said, they had no idea what to expect. They hoped a handful of people would come out for a party in the Flats that included a lawnmower race, mud bog, and chili cook-off. They ended up with approximately 250 people descending on the campground for an afternoon of entertainment in 2017. Last year, it jumped to 500 people. This year, they are hoping to hit 750 redneck enthusiasts.
New this year, and sure to be an entertaining event, is belt sander racing. Wooden tracks (floor joists actually) will provide the race course for belt sanders. Contestants are free to alter and decorate them for the delight of viewers. Other belt sander races show sanders that have been made to look like trucks, disco balls and clowns.
The chili cook-off includes simmering pots of tame tastes right to knock-your-teeth-out strength stews. This year, Mr. Kask says, a contestant is planning to enter the first ever vegan chili in the cook-off. The chef has thrown the ladle down, betting on her meatless chili for this year’s tasty winner.
“She says she will win the competition, and has no problem competing against the meat,” Mr. Kask said. Other chili offerings, he confirmed, have always been ‘meat-o-plenty’.
The lawnmower race is what started this whole event. Last year in the adult competition, Mr. Kask said someone even installed a motorcycle engine in one of the lawnmowers.
“It was a hoot,” he recalled, describing how the driver made it into the finals but blew a turn and crashed into the tulips.
In 2018 they added a kid’s competition, with a lawnmower donated by BID Group. While the lawnmower burnt in a fire on the site of the Columbia Lake Technology Centre, Mr. Kask confirms they have just bought another one in time for the race. Kids, aged 9-16, need to pre-register for the race. All the safety equipment and the mower will be provided.
Bring your appetite to the party. Steve the Weinerman will be handing out free hot dogs and J-2 beef sliders from 12-3 p.m., thanks to funding from the Columbia Basin Trust. The party continues with food trucks on site right through the afternoon and evening. Food trucks confirmed so far include a burger truck, a donut truck, and even a pierogy truck.
Two bands: Boots and Hoots, and The Rhinestones, are scheduled to perform in the evening on the outdoor gazebo stage. The Rhinestones, described Mr. Kask, “play the accordion and can sing like the devil,” while the Boots and Hoots are a “honky-tonk, super fun band.”
Organizers are strategizing on the best way to pay tribute to Len Bond at this year’s Mowers and Music. Mr. Bond was a Canal Flats local who passed away recently, and helped to make the Mowers and Music event what it is today. Mr. Kask says it was Mr. Bond’s enthusiastic response to the event, including building some souped-up lawnmowers in secret, that helped build anticipation and excitement for the first event in 2017. Mr. Bond had even invited some guys from the bathtub races in Nanaimo up for the race, “and then they (Len Bond and friends) spanked all those guys from Nanaimo,” Mr. Kask quipped.
Mr. Bond was the first one to get his lawnmower through the mud bog last year, a feat unclaimed by anyone else so far.
The third annual Mowers and Music event happens Saturday, May 4th. The chili cook-off starts at noon, with belt sander racing underway at 12:30 p.m. Youth mower race takes place at 1:30 and adult races begin at 3 p.m. Mud bog challenge happens at 5:30 p.m. after all the lawn mower races have wrapped up. Bands hit the stage at 7 p.m., with everything wrapping up by 10 p.m.
There are limited camping spots available, so Mr. Kask urges anyone interested in parking overnight for the event to book now. To book your spot, or to register for the lawnmower race, email email@example.com.