By Matt Kotula
MANCHESTER — The Town Board has given the green light for an off-road venue on Armington Road to hold a mud run event this month after a lengthy discussion of a number of concerns — including parking, safety and noise.
Christopher “Kirby” Waite, the owner of Kirby’s Kompound, sought a special event permit from the town to hold a mud run — essentially a course of mud for trucks to plow through — on his property. The board unanimously approved the event at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Concerns about the event were first brought to the board in May after a truck caught fire at a mud run that month. Waite said that volunteers were equipped with fire extinguishers, but by the time the fire department arrived, the truck was a total loss.
Shortly after May’s mud run, Waite received a written letter informing him that the mud run events were to be suspended.
Town Supervisor Jeffery Gallahan said at the May meeting that he had received complaints from neighbors regarding loud trucks and crowd noise carrying on into the night.
“We were running for three years, and all of the sudden, the town got involved,” Waite said. “Three years ago, they said there were no permits, no applications, no nothing.”
The board said at its August meeting that it would like to work with Waite to allow the events, but that he must comply with regulations. Gallahan requested that Kirby’s Kompound put a cap on the number of cars allowed on Waite’s property to 1,000. Over 3,000 people came to the last mud run in May, Waite said, with similar numbers expected at the event Sept. 21.
In addition to the cap on cars, the board and Waite’s lawyer, Edward C. Russ Kenyon, agreed at the August meeting to limit the number of attendees to a range of 3,000 to 4,000 and to end the event at 5 p.m. The town also requested that it be added to Waite’s insurance policy in the event of injuries or lawsuits stemming from a mud run.
“I think it was more that the town didn’t know what we had going,” Waite said. The town’s major points of emphasis included ensuring the mandated ratio of bathrooms to guests was met and settling on parking and attendance caps. Garbage pickup and noise concerns were also discussed at length.
Waite, Kenyon and the town negotiated an amended permit application, which, along with approval of liability insurance paperwork, allows Kirby’s Kompound to hold the September mud run.
After the fire department was called to the last mud run, Waite said he used profits to finance the purchase of a1973 military fire truck. The Manchester Fire Department will also be on hand with a truck and two trained personnel.
Waite said that a pond-fed truck wash station has also been installed on the property to help keep excess mud from being deposited onto the road from the large trucks that run through the mud course. He also purchased a street sweeper to keep roads free from debris, and assured the board that his staff would be responsible for maintaining and cleaning up any garbage left on the roadside.
Waite said the popularity of the event has grown tremendously from its founding at a bachelor party three years ago.
“It just sort of clicked in my head,” said Waite, who said he immediately recognized the potential of a relatively untapped market of mudding enthusiasts. Waite said the mud depth can range from 2 to 3 feet up to 8 feet, and the goal is to get the trucks from one side of the pit to the other.
He has seen his event grow from a few friends, to 600 at the next event, to 3,000 this past May.
“I never thought it would grow like it has,” Waite said.
Waite said he believes Kirby’s Kompound can be a positive local presence. Jim Breen, a local business owner, said at the August board meeting that he expected to see business spike 10 percent during a mud run, and was hopeful the events would continue.
No one voiced disapproval of the event at the board meeting.