DESERT AIRE - America's economy may be in the dumps, but its spirit is not, if Hot Desert Nights here last Saturday is an indication.
Each of the four major events that make up the festival was well attended. Participation was up from last year and so was each audience.
The Mattawa-Desert Aire Lions Club General Fund, which supports the group's many community charities, got a big boost. Hundreds paid $20 a ticket for dinner and a dance in the park. They also paid to witness the drag races.
Festival director Bob Adler said it will be days before the Lions know the final numbers, but he expects them to be at least 20 percent higher than last year.
One reason it will take a few days is that Adler, who originated this festival, will need some rest. He was on his feet from early morning to late evening, running here and there to make sure the show ran smoothly.
"I'll finally get a break when the dance starts," he said.
The dance was slated for 7 p.m. It started late.
The dinner, which Moses Lake's Smoke House Grill started serving at 6 p.m., fed a line that lasted more than half an hour. Serving, in the park pavilion, was done at three buffet tables, and it was done briskly.
The day started with the 7:30 a.m. Hot Desert Nights Scramble golf tournament at Desert Aire Golf Course. Desert Aire resident Ed Hansen, who played, reported it had the best participation he's seen.
Bill McCaffrey, a Desert Aire resident and businessman and member of the Lions, reported that the Hot Desert Nights drag races, which started around noon and ended about 3 p.m., were the best ever.
"I think we had twice as many cars as last year," he said. "Last year we had single cars running against a clock. This year we had double cars running against each other."
Adler estimated there were more than 100 cars. He said they came from all over.
"The word is spreading around the Northwest about these drag races," said Harold Rodland of Monroe, who won in 2009 with his supercharged 1968 red Chevelle and competed again.
The Hot Desert Nights classic car show also saw a jump. There were more than 50 cars, pickups and trucks on display. Mike and Angie Kahler of Graham made their 5th appearance with their sweet-looking baby blue 1955 Thunderbird.
"This is just a fun place to come," Angie said with a broad smile.
Winners at the car show were:
Best Hod Rod - 1947 Studebaker, yellow and silver, owner Scott Nixon.
Best Stock - 1964 black Chevy Malibu, owner Tom Truax of Desert Aire.
People's Choice - 1928 black Dodge Rat Rod, owner Don Burns.
Winners at the golf tourney were:
First place - Desert Aire Duffers (Dave Hargroves, John Harrison, Dave Patterson, Tiffany Hedman) 66. Better 18th hole than second place team.
Second place - P2E2 (Kent and Sandy Potts, Ilene Eacker, Jack Eskildsen) 66.
Third place - Wiz-Mor (Craig and Laynee Morrison, Ed and Lori Wiswall) 67.
Closest-to-pin (KP) No. 11, Prudential Real Estate sponsor, Rick Rada, 7 feet, 4 inches.
KP No. 14, Tiddaly-Diddaly sponsor, Jeff Goodwin, 8-11.5.
KP No. 3, Jerry Milbrandt sponsor, Kent Potts, 6-2.
KP No. 6, R Place Tavern sponsor, Lori Wiswall, 7-4.
No winners were declared at the drag races. It was a friendly meet staged for the enjoyment of the racers and the spectators.