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EAA Adds More Parking, Camping as Attendance Grows
By Barbara A. Schmitz
July 29, 2017 - Many people come to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh each year to see row after row of airplanes. But this year, they are also finding row after row of cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
The number of people who drove to AirVenture was so large Friday, EAA added a new parking lot dubbed the Pink Lot. And, preparing for even larger Saturday crowds had crews getting a second new lot ready named the Red Lot.
“The number of cars Friday was well above anything in recent memory,” said Brian Wierzbinski, EAA executive vice president and CFO. “We filled all the traditional lots, prepared the Pink Lot, and then put 800 cars in there.” The Pink Lot is adjacent to the Brown Lot, located across from the EAA Aviation Museum on Poberezny Road.
Brian said they created the Red Lot “on the chance that we’ll need it.” He was monitoring traffic around noon on Saturday and said he’d know in the next few hours whether they would also have to open that lot.
Most of the parking lots were in good condition, despite rain earlier in the week. “During midweek, we had a few places in some of the parking lots that got a little muddy and slippery,” he said. But EAA’s facilities crew quickly poured gravel in those low spots so vehicles could get the traction they needed.
Brian said Oshkosh received rain eight days out of 10 since April. That, combined with cooler temperatures, has made for perfect growing grass weather. “We’ve been mowing much more frequently,” he said. “We just finish mowing the whole grounds, and then we have to start over again. But we always try to maintain the Paul Poberezny standards.” Poberezny, EAA’s founder, always promoted high standards for the grounds.
Besides running out of parking space, EAA also ran out of camping space. “We had to create an expansion to the campgrounds, something we were preparing to do for next year’s AirVenture,” Brian said. “But, we pulled the trigger and converted 10 additional acres to camping Thursday night.”
The campground was expanded on its eastern side, between Schaick Road and Ripple Road.
Brian said Camp Scholler is filled with 11 percent more campers through Friday, compared to 2016. In addition to mowing grass, the crew had to bring in portable toilets and dumpsters, and create traffic and busing routes. “Everything had to be adjusted because it’s important that those people who camp there are treated to the same standards as everyone else,” he said. “We believe there are no second-class citizens anywhere.”
He praised the EAA team — both staff and volunteers — who worked tirelessly to make these changes quickly. “Everyone gave a little extra.”