The Muck-Magic Doesn’t Make Itself, My Friend
Earlier this season we took you behind-the-scenes at the super-secret MuckFest® MS obstacle design facility and the mysterious man named “Mike” at the center of it all. Today, we’re out in the field talking to “Slade” and “Jake,” two of our far-flung event production managers who take those muck-tacular obstacles and event sites and create the muck-magic that is MuckFest MS. They are responsible for finding, securing and building-out the event site. They make it look easy, but what you see on the event is really the culmination of months of hard work and many bad-hair days. We caught up with them at a rest area halfway between St. Louis and Twin Cities.
This might be “Slade” and “Jake”, and our volunteer queen, “Kat”. Or it might be their stunt doubles.
MuckFest MS: So, when do you start working on a site, like a week before the event?
Slade: Technically, the site work begins about a year before the event. That’s how long it sometimes takes to secure a site.
Jake: After we find a suitable location, then there’s permitting and contracts and multiple hoops to jump through. It takes a lot of time.
Slade: So when we show up a few weeks before the event to excavate the site, it’s like the final scene of an epic drama.
Jake: A drama that includes a lot of stale coffee, paperwork and heavy equipment, of course.
The magic ingredient behind the MuckFest MS on-event team? LOTS of coffee from our mucky coffee pot. They take theirs with cream, two sugars, and a pinch of mud.
MuckFest MS: What makes a good site for MuckFest MS?
Jake: We always look for a site with enough room for a cool festival area and varied topography for the course—wooded areas, hills, that kind of thing. It’s a balance that you’re looking for.
Slade: The key to finding perfect balance in a site is to envision the site as it will be, not as it is.
Jake: Oh, tell me more, site guru!
Slade: Sorry, I got a little mystical there.
MuckFest MS: What’s the most complicated part of building out a site to get it ready for MuckFest MS?
Slade: The overriding concern is safety. So when you have tall obstacles like Big Balls and Mt. Muckimanjaro and all the pits and trenches that require excavation, you have to take into account utility lines and ground stability. The Spinner alone weighs almost two tons, so you can’t plant that baby just anywhere.
Jake: We have the site design worked out well in advance, so we’re prepared for just about anything. I think the biggest variable is always the weather.
Slade: Weather—she’s a temperamental mistress.
Jake: You should say that with a Scottish accent.
MuckFest MS: But the event production work doesn’t end when you close the beer tent?
Slade: No, far from it. After we remove and dismantle the obstacles and fit them into the big rigs, we bring in the heavy equipment to fill-in the pits to make it look like it did before we got there.
Jake: That’s the rule, leave it better than you found it.
Slade: The other rule is, leave snake-charming to the experts.
MuckFest MS: What is the craziest thing that’s happened on an event?
Jake: I saw a guy in a Speedo eat a worm at the starting line. By the way, we don’t endorse ingesting insects as a protein source.
Slade: I’ve been on events with snowstorms and hurricane-force winds. At the time, it’s nutso, but it makes for good material for the folk ballads that I like to sing while out on the road. My favorite is “Bad Hair Day on Smoky Ridge.”
MuckFest MS: What’s the best costume that you’ve seen at a MuckFest MS event?
Slade: I’m a big fan of all the superhero costumes and the hybrid half-ballet, half-hula dancer.
Jake: I’m always a sucker for neon gear, colored wigs, muck-shades, and muck-staches. But I really loved the guy who had a furry duck costume, paying homage to our own duck mascot.
Can you top these!?
MuckFest MS: Finally, are “Slade” and “Jake” stage names or real names?
Slade: Can anyone say with absolute certainty what is real and what is not?
Jake: It’s my real name, but last season, they occasionally asked me to DJ the event, so I was “MC Muck-a-Lot” and I had to wear a sparkly jumpsuit.