Dollar: LakeFest cancellation a budget matter, only

Photo by Frank Shubert/The Highlander

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

When the announcement came that contract negotiations for LakeFest 2018 had fallen through, speculation was rampant.

The announcements from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber and the City of Marble Falls were straightforward: “It boiled down to being a business decision.”

That didn't stop people wondering if it boiled down to city parks and recreation construction and related boat ramp changes or the development of the hotel conference center.

For an answer, we turned to Ken Dollar of Meadowlakes, the face of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Races from 2009 until the first of 2018.

“Development never came into the picture,” he said. “I want to get that across.”

“It was a simple thing,” he continued. “Last year the Lucas corporation people decided it was time to take a look and restructure, not just drag boats, but all their motor sports series; and they own several.

“It was time to look at budgets, cutting expenses where they could and renegotiating with promoters, Marble Falls being one.”

Last year Lucas sponsored 10 drag boat races. In 2018 that number has dropped to six. Nothing has been said by Dollar, Lucas Oil or the chamber to rule out future negotiations.

Dollar said, this year, the contract prepared and proposed to the chamber in Marble Falls by Lucas Oil was deemed financially unacceptable and mutually beneficial terms were unable to be negotiated.

“Plain and simple, this is why there will not be a drag boat race in Marble Falls this year.”

He had praise for elected city officials and staff, Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation staff and the board and staff of the chamber.

“I have never experienced anything but a sincere interest and concern on all their parts to be very mindful in the planning and construction phases of the (development) plans to make sure that the project would not affect the LakeFest event in a negative way,” said Dollar. “Actually, many ideas and plans will enhance the event.”

Dollar announced his intent to retired from Lucas Oil in mid-January. He and his wife have lived in the Marble Falls area since 1980, owning and operating a business here for 19 of those year.

“We raised our family here and have been involved in many aspects of this community, which we have grown to cherish,” said Dollar in a letter he shared with the chamber after social media chatter seemed to misunderstand the contract decision. “I've been involved with the Lake Fest since its inception, as a board member of the chamber and as one of the original Lake Fest committee members.”

He said he fell in love with and developed a passion for the sport of drag boat racing, the event, and the people of the sport.

“I have been involved with this sport ever since, with the Southern Drag Boat Racing Association, International Hot Boat Association (under two owners), and the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series,” he said. “In 2009, my wife and I were given the opportunity to become the Series and Administration directors for Lucas Oil when Mr. Lucas made the decision to add drag boats to the list of the motorsports series that he owned and was involved in. We worked in that capacity until Feb. 1 of this year.”

Dollar closed his open letter of support to the chamber with this comment: “I have seen many things stated by many people on social media and elsewhere that are just flat wrong and very harmful to the reputations of some very good people. These people are our civic leaders, friends, and fellow citizens.

“They deserve more than personal attacks and accusations based on incorrect facts, rumors, and innuendos.”


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