Beech Bend Park Preparing For Opening Weekend

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Beech Bend Park is a destination for many who are looking for thrills in South Central Kentucky but they may get more than they bargained for this season. The park is currently installing a ride called "The Vortex", which is an 80-foot pendulum with a twist.

"Sitting in a circle facing other folks who are as crazy as you are and that circle will start spinning. Once it starts spinning the pendulum will start swinging and it's going to swing you up over the lake on one side, and over the walk way on the other. It's going to be a wild ride." said Park Manager, Charlotte Gonzalez.

"The Vortex" is just the newest addition to the many rides already in operation at Beech Bend Park, but they would not be possible without the men and women of the maintenance crew.

"When we set the new rides up I'll be right there wrenching, tightening all the bolts, and everything; all the operation of it so i can learn it all." said Director of Maintenance Bill Burr.

Plenty of maintenance is done in the winter to prepare each ride for state inspection and certification but when a ride breaks down in the middle of the summer season it's a whole different story.

"It's got to be fixed and I got to shut the ride down. I may have to work until midnight or one o'clock in the morning to get it right and then come right back in the next morning. I work seven days a week through the whole season." added Burr.

As spring turns to summer, park goers turn to the water park as a destination where they can cool off.

"By mid-June I have people who tell me we came and meant to do the whole park but we never got out of the water park. So obviously it's very important to the park." commented Gonzalez.

Officials at the park say 2013 will be a success for them, if attendance goes up and their guests are happy. The park opens May 4, while the water park opens Saturday, May 18.

The park's not just about rides. You can also get behind the wheel at Beech Bend. The raceway is scheduled for one of its busiest summers to date. Track officials say drivers and spectators from all over the country are expected swarm to the spot for its quality racing and unique setting.

"We've won our share of track of the year (awards) up at our division three banquet, eight or nine times in the last 15 years. I don't really know what makes the difference, but I know that the corporate tracks got a lot more black top and less grass. We've got trees and grass and that's a big difference." said Owner, Dallas Jones.

Track officials say their relationship with organizations such as NHRA is what allows the facility to hold so many quality events.

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