KENNEWICK -- Seafair needed a last-minute infusion of cash to stay alive.
Same thing in Detroit, where the owner of Jarvis Construction jumped on board to save the Gold Cup.
Evansville won't have the hydros this year for the first time since 1979.
San Diego dropped off the schedule two years ago.
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This year's schedule for H1 Unlimiteds -- five races -- is, in fact, pretty shaky.
"Seattle, I thought it was untouchable," said a stunned Dave Villwock, driver of the U-96 Spirit of Qatar. "Detroit, I thought that was untouchable."
But one race that has been pretty solid -- at least since 2007 -- has been the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday on the Columbia River.
Back in 2007, though, the Tri-Cities was where Seattle and Detroit are now. There was very little, if any, money in the coffers.
And, says Mike Denslow, the Tri-Cities Water Follies Board president, there was too much trading out of goods and services for tickets.
"Kathy Balcom got involved back then, and with her connections in the community, along with a rejuvenated board, we went to the public and asked do we want this event?" Denslow said.
Lamb Weston jumped on board as a major sponsor.
HAPO did the same as a mid-major sponsor, Denslow said.
And the community responded positively.
"We have over a $3 million impact that weekend," Denslow said. "In four years we really have turned things around. We've put a little money away in case of a 110-degree day, or high winds, in which maybe the crowds won't be so big.
"Really, financially, we were just going from year to year," Denslow continued. "Now we work on it year-round. We used to be very reactive rather than proactive. We look at the numbers every month, compare it to the year before."
Denslow's assessment of the Columbia Cup now?
"I feel our race site now is the strongest one with what we've been able to do over the last four years after questioning the community if it wanted this event," he said.
Denslow should know. He's a member of the H1 Unlimited board of directors.
"I think (Tri-Cities' success) is a combination of a couple things," Denslow said. "The current leadership we have, along with key volunteers, and then the community support. We've got those three things in place."
The biggest key may be those volunteers, in which Denslow and the Follies board can pull together over 1,000 of them. Denslow uses Lampson Crane as an example. The company volunteers its cranes and workers in the pits.
"They turn it into their yearly banquet," Denslow. "Their whole company comes out."
When a race goes away, getting the volunteers back together may be the toughest thing.
Evansville could be a test case, after city officials elected not to bring the boats back because of costs.
"It's really a tragedy when you've got an event for 30-something years and then you lose it," said Steve David, driver of the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto. "It's just a shame because sometimes when you lose it, you never get it back."
"Once you lose that infrustructure and it falls apart, it's hard to get it back," Villwock said. "It's a concern, but it's a reflection of the times. Businesses are having problems making ends meet. In the end, the people who love the community will stand up and make a difference."
Ed Cooper, owner of the U-3 piston-powered boat, is based in Evansville.
"This (Evansville) race has been going downhill for a long time," Cooper admits. "Your race site found some sort of venue that works."
Charging admission on both the Benton and Franklin County sides of the river brings in a good amount of revenue.
That's not always the case.
"Madison, they can only charge on the Indiana side (of the Ohio River)," said Denslow. "In Detroit, they only charge on one side as well. In Seattle, they have a partial of a side and the log boom."
Denslow remains hopeful that most of the other race sites can survive.
"I think Seattle has the ability to bounce back if that community wants," he said. "Detroit I worry about. Not because of the leadership. It's the economic problems. Madison, they have a great group of volunteers. Not as big as ours. But they're great Midwest people who have put on a race for a long time. They sponsor a boat. What they've been able to accomplish with such a small city is amazing."
As for Tri-Cities, there's a confidence there that as long as there are unlimiteds racing, the Columbia Cup will be here for years to come.
"I definitely think so," Denslow said. "We still need that financial stability along with the community support. We still need people to show up to the race."
Cooper doesn't see that as a problem.
"If every race had been like the Tri-Cities, we'd have a lot of races (on the schedule)," Cooper said. "You guys get the whole community involved."