In something of an unlikely series of events, there were actually a couple of events happening on the same weekend that we wanted to try out. So after the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Regional Qualifier, we headed to the Charlotte Dragonboat Festival. Unfortunately, by the time we finally got through at the qualifier, it was getting on a bit in the afternoon.

There were multiple problems with this. First and foremost, it gets hotter towards that part of the day. Naturally, we were thinking that boats have to have water, so we were going to be okay. Not necessarily a good idea, because (of course) we weren't on the boats. Perhaps we should have been. Second, the capacity planning coordinator should have been shot.

You see, the actual event was held at Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius. This is a nice enough park for a few dozen people. But there had to be hundreds there. That alone may not have been a problem if everyone was actually in the park - but to get to the park, you had to park at the old Palace Cinema, perhaps a mile and a half from the park, and take buses to get to the park.

If you recall the main problem at the Nathan's Qualifier, it was that it was held in a parking lot. A hotter sun, later in the day, standing - wait for it - in a parking lot, waiting for a bus, was not fun. And there were, if I counted correctly, three buses running. They could have used double that. I can understand why they didn't, as it wasn't a long way to the park, and the road to get there is a small residential road, and more buses would have clogged up the whole thing - putting more buses on the road would have probably made delays worse, not better.

The only good news is that the buses were nice.

Once we arrived at the park, we were greeted with more asphalt. Many of the parks in Mecklenburg County are fairly nice. This is one of the exceptions. This isn't to say that the park isn't nice - it has a nice piece of shoreline on Lake Norman, after all - but the booths for food and crafts were set up in the parking lot, and there was precious real estate to pull up a spot to sit on and actually be able to watch the boats.

And did I mention that the boats weren't running all that often? I must have forgotten. I'm not saying that it's their fault - just that for the amount of people, the heat, and the mess that was this whole event, it made for a rather unpleasant experience. I would have rather seen people shove hot dogs in their mouth.

To make matters even worse, when we decided to leave - which we did fairly early on, to beat the rush - we had to stand in line (you guessed it) in the parking lot, and wait for the buses again. We actually decided to walk back to the old cinema, and as it turned out, this may not have been the best idea, since it was hot, but we made about the same amount of time. Was it better to walk in the heat or stand? I can't say. But at least it felt like we were doing something about it!

Frankly, I was surprised at the crowd, but it seems that the organizers should have been a bit more prepared. Were you there? What did you think?

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