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Automania is a go!
DOT says no to Splitrock, Holly now considered
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

November 12. 2012 7:02AM
Brace yourselves, Brandon – Automania 2013 is definitely coming to the city.
But it may not set up on Splitrock Boulevard (S.D. Highway 11) as initially planned.

Late last month, City Administrator Bryan Read was notified via a letter from Travis Dressen, an engineer with the South Dakota Department of Transportation, that the request to close Highway 11 from Cedar Street to Keystone Drive on June 28, 2013, has been denied.

The DOT denied the request for a variety of reasons, according to the letter. Reasons cited are:

• The event proposed within the ROW (right-of-way) is being held by a private organization.

• The duration of the roadway closure.

• SD11 is a state highway providing direct access to and from Interstate 90.

• Sales and private advertising of any kind are prohibited within state ROW.

“The best place for it would be on Splitrock,” said Kim Cerwick, executive director of the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that we don’t have a downtown because of the way this town was built, hopefully, we can make this a possibility.”

But organizers aren’t giving up on Holly Boulevard just yet. Read said follow-up appeals are being made to the DOT.

A meeting, led by Automania organizers, was held Monday morning to educate local business people on the event.

Organizer Bill Nelson said Automania – now in its ninth year – simply outgrew downtown Sioux Falls.

“We just don’t have enough room,” Nelson said. “We’ve outgrown the downtown Sioux Falls area and we anticipate a lot of room for growth in Brandon.”

Nelson estimated between 70,000 and 80,000 attended last year’s event with about 1,200 cars and 100 vendors. He anticipates the move to Brandon will allow them not only to draw more vendors and cars but more people.

And with that many people in Brandon, Cerwick said the benefits of Automania for the community are big.

“Obviously our businesses are going to be extremely busy, which in turn increases the tax dollars we’re going to make,” she said. “This one day and evening is going to make a big difference.”

Nelson said The Diner in Sioux Falls boasted record sales last year.

Penny Paclik, owner of Taco John’s, said she’s excited about the opportunity, but said it’s important for Brandon residents and businesses to step up to the challenge.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us,” she said. “But we have a huge responsibility because we’re going to be judged on what we do (this first year) … people will be overly critical.”

The new Brandon location still is close to Sioux Falls but will give them more room to display cars, allow them to offer a shuttle service and have increased parking for attendees. They’ll also have more time to set up for the event, which was challenging in downtown Sioux Falls, Nelson said. It also is right off the interstate and probably will draw more people from rural areas that don’t want to drive into downtown Sioux Falls, he said.

The decision to move is a gain for Brandon, where city officials have been working to bring in more events.

“We are more than happy to (host it) because it brings people into our city,” said Brandon Mayor Larry Beesley. “I think it’s a pretty good event for Brandon.”

“There’s going to be some headaches, no doubt about it,” adds Cerwick. “That’s what comes with this many people. But the magnitude of the good of this outweighs the bad.”

Nelson said they’ve booked the band for next year, Kahuna Beach Party, a Beach Boys tribute band, and are working to have car aficionado Barry Weiss of Storage Wars and Bobby Alloway, a car builder. Six bands in all will play on two separate stages.
Going with the beach theme, they also plan to bring in 15 to 20 loads of sand to recreate a beach area – something they wouldn’t have been able to do downtown because of time constraints, Nelson said.

“This should be a fun event,” Cerwick said. “We worked hard to get this here. Between the City and the Chamber, we worked very hard to be open and do everything we can to help them.”

Automania, which has been held in Sioux Falls the past eight years, is moving to Brandon in 2013. Argus Leader Media file photo

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