Huckfest truck-jumping competition at Oceano Dunes is canceled

Huckfest, the annual truck jumping competition that draws thousands of spectators and drivers to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, has been canceled this year because of increased costs, organizers said.

The cancellation of the Oct. 16-17 event was announced in a post on Huckfest’s official Facebook page.

“We apologize for the wait and the bad news but we have been trying to make it work out and unfortunately this is our only option,” read the Aug. 18 post.

Organizers wrote that the event, which would have been the seventh annual gathering, was canceled because increased permitting costs “push us out of the Oceano Dunes SVRA.”

A representative of the competition declined to comment further on the cancellation Thursday.

But Huckfest organizers said on Facebook they still plan to gather at the Dunes on Oct. 16 and 17, although they will not be hosting an official competition.

“We will still be in the dunes playing with our trucks ‘as we do every weekend’ using the park legally and safely!” they wrote in the Facebook post. “If you wish to use the park freely with no inflated cost please do so as we will be happy to join you!”

Rumor is Correct. October 16th-17th HUCKFEST is cancelled This years permitting costs for us have gone through the...

Posted by Huckfest on Sunday, August 16, 2015Oceano Dunes State Park Chief Ranger Kevin Pearce said he was not expecting a big turnout and that any visitors would still pay the usual camping and day-use fees. The campground still has about 500 campsites open, he noted.

Pearce said the actual permitting fees for this year’s Huckfest would not have been higher, although the estimated costs for services performed by State Parks officers did increase.

Last year, Huckfest organizers were required to obtain permits or agreements with State Parks, Caltrans, CHP, Grover Beach police and Cal Fire to provide traffic or emergency services outside the park boundaries.

State Parks staff was on site to handle traffic, ensure public safety and monitor any impacts to the federally listed western snowy plover.

Last year, all 16 State Parks rangers plus six officers from other agencies were working on the days of the competition.

This year, the Huckfest organizers asked for more services, such as delivering more dumpsters to the site and installing and maintaining chemical toilets, Pearce said. That would have required more work hours from Pearce's staff, and event organizers would need to compensate State Parks for the additional costs.

“We were excited about the event, but it got to the point where it wasn't fiscally responsible for the state to take on those costs without compensation,” Pearce said. “When they decided they didn't want to do it this year, we said, ‘OK, but the door is always open if you want to come back.’ It's a great event for us, so hopefully they come back next year.”

Huckfest drew more than 11,000 people from across the country last year to see trucks and buggies flying dozens of feet into the air over sand crests at the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

Professional off-road racing drivers have made appearances at the competition, such as 2013 winner Mike Higgins of Michigan and off-road racing champion B.J. Baldwin.

The competition has had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with South County residents, who argue that the competition increases traffic in the area. Pearce said Huckfest organizers made an effort last year to prevent any large impacts on traffic along Grand Avenue leading to the Dunes entrance.

The competition was also moved last year from Labor Day weekend to mid-October, and attendees were charged admission to help mitigate some of the crowds.

“As far as we were concerned, they really satisfied all of the traffic concerns last year that were a big concern for the community,” Pearce said.

Huckfest organizers said they were in talks with the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in Glamis in Southern California to host an event in 2016.

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