It’s not every day that a child gets to see a bulldozer. Getting to sit in the cab and operate it? Well, that’s even rarer.
This Saturday and Sunday, May 19 to 20, the annual Dozer Day gave kids the chance to not only see heavy construction equipment in action, but to take control of the machinery themselves.
Dozer Day, which is put on by the Nutter Family Foundation, has been a local tradition for 14 years. Families with children of all ages gathered at the Clark County Fairgrounds for two days of diesel-powered fun. Dozens of dozers, backhoes, and diggers line the grandstand lawn, where machine operators let the young ones take the controls of the equipment and dig holes, move dirt, or plow over the loose ground.
Aimee Gebarowski, the event co-chair for Dozer Day, explains that the event gives people an opportunity that they are not likely to find elsewhere. “Kids get to be out there and not only see it in action, but actually get up inside and drive the machines, which is really an incredible experience. You can tell by the smiles on their faces and how excited these people are to get in line to try the machines that it’s something really special.”
Butch Everett, an excavator operator, has been involved in Dozer Day since it began. For Everett, the best thing about Dozer Day is getting to see the joy it brings to the kids. “All the kids get to have a turn on the machines, come up, laugh, smile, have a great time. I get one or two that scream, ‘Mom.’ But yeah, it’s all for the kids,” Everett explains.
Kids can thank Dozer Day for more than just the fun it provides for two days out of the year; money raised through the event is donated to children’s charities in the local community. In fact, Gebarowski quotes the Nutter Family Foundation chairwoman, Renee Nutter, as having said, “We’ve given back over $1.2 million in charities and in the Dozer Day event itself.”
While Dozer Day is primarily geared towards giving kids the chance to get behind the controls of construction equipment, there is a “biggest kid” equipment area for the young at heart, where older kids and adults can get behind the wheel and drive machinery by themselves. So, even if the whole family comes to Dozer Day for the kids to have a good time, visitors can count on there being something fun for the whole family, as well.
For those not feeling up to the challenge of driving a dozer, there are plenty of other activities to keep visitors busy. A tire crawl, with enormous tractor tires, gives kids the chance to climb, crawl, and hide to their hearts’ content. A giant, air powered cannon provides the means for “shooting for prizes” game. Kids can get their dig on and, for $2 a minute, dig for diamonds in a massive pile of sand. While the jewels buried in the pile itself are not real, each one is exchangeable for a real gemstone, including diamonds worth a few thousand dollars each.
With thousands of people and hours of activities to be found at Dozer Day, Gebarowski says that it takes an entire team of people and generous sponsors to make the event possible. “We’re really proud to be here and we couldn’t have done it without all the amazing sponsors. We have over 60 different sponsors in the industry, also in the community, that come out to support Dozer Day and participate and interact with the 20,000 guests,” says Gebarowski.