Spring For Down Syndrome Event Moves To Fairgrounds
By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Andrew Marzuco was nearing his eighth birthday when his father. Chip Marzuco, launched the annual Spring For Down Syndrome event in June 2010.
The event, which raises awareness and money for Down Syndrome, was inspired by Andrew, who went on to lead an inspirational 20 years of life despite the syndrome.
Since his tragic death at age 20 in December 2022, Andrew’s life has continued to be an inspiration. This year’s event is specially dedicated to his memory.
Chip Marzuco is expecting a big turnout this year. Last year’s was the biggest yet, both on terms of money raised and in participants.
A total of 440 UTVs and 48 Jeeps took part in the Poker Run. Marzuco is expecting even more this year. Many of those camp out during the weekend.
“This year we’ve got camping at the Moses Austin House, down below the bridge and we’ve got the fairgrounds,” Marzuco said.
Last year there were 18 camping spots available. That expanded to 32 this year.
“This year, we’re hoping everybody can park up there, at the event,” he said. “Then when they get back, they can pull their UTV on their trailer and then come down and enjoy the activities.”
This year the event is moving from the Knights of Columbus Hall on Market Street, to the county fairgrounds, where it will have more room.
Marzuco said he hopes more of the UTV participants will hang around to collect the ride’s attendance prizes, as well as take part in the other activities, with the change in venue.
“We’ve got the oral auction and the silent auction and we’ve got multiple bands that are going to play after they get back,” he said. “We’re hoping that, with the new venue, everyone is going to come to that spot and stay, instead of having to leave like they did before.”
Last year, the food ran out early. That shouldn’t be a problem this time around.
“We sold out so early that we had UTVs going all over town,” Marzuco said.
While the Knights of Columbus will not be doing a chicken dinner this year, there will be about seven different food trucks on the grounds.
“Anything from Mexican to the normal pork burgers to all kinds of different things,” Marzuco said. “ It’s going to be neat.”
Marzuco is confident the fairgrounds will work out extremely well.
“I think it’s a good change for a venue,” he said. “We needed the additional space, and with the additional camping spots up there, they all have electric and water.”
In addition to those 30+ spots, there is “unlimited” camping space for those who wish to bring their own generators.
“We’ve got tons of spots for that,” he said.
The visitors help local merchants, as well.
“I didn’t realize until last year, with us running out of food, we had five different restaurants reach out to thank us because they had bigger days that at Jour de Fete,” Marzuco said.
People come from all over for the event.
“We’ve got campers coming from the east side of Illinois,” Marzuco said. “They hear about the event and heard what happened to Andrew and all, and decided, ‘We’ll come and help,’ so they’re coming on Thursday. It’s a neat, neat feeling.”
A prize will be given to the people who travel the farthest to take part in the UTV ride.
The riders have always been tidy and respectful.
“What’s amazing, we ride the ride the day after to pick up trash,” Marzuco said. “We couldn’t find anything. We couldn’t find anybody complaining.”
Last year the route went through St. Mary, across the historic Franklin Bridge and thorough picaresque Indian Hills. That route would not be possible this year, with the closure of the bridge.
That, however, is a moot point since the route is different every year.
“Every year we do a different route, just because we want to have it different for people you don’t know where we’re going,” Marzuco said. “We’re not telling anybody where we’re going. When you get there, you’ll have the event page that tells you were to go.”
The only part of the route he isn’t keeping a secret is that it will go past the Challenger Baseball Field and the new Andrew Marzuco memorial on Progress Parkway.
Marzuco said the fact that the majority of Ste. Genevieve County’s county roads are paved makes for a more pleasant ride.
“I’ve been on UTV rides that I had to wear a bandana and I was covered with dust, head to toe,” he said. “Anybody can go; it’s on pavement.”
He thinks a water truck will be able to wet down the limited amount of gravel between paved sections.