CONWAY — A Centennial Bank official said he won’t rule out bringing back the popular Stuck on a Truck promotion someday, but not this year.
The event, which began as Hug a Bug in 2001, has been held for 13 years in downtown Conway in conjunction with Toad Suck Daze.
David Druey, president of the Conway division, said the bank will let the city use the bank’s parking lot at Front and Oak streets.
Instead of setting up the Stuck on a Truck event, during which sleep-deprived contestants try to win a Ford truck in an endurance contest, the lot will be a command center for emergency personnel during the three-day festival.
“Stuck on a Truck, while it was a great event, was really about Centennial Bank and all our sponsors,” Druey said.
In the past few years, he said, the bank has “really tried to focus on the community” by sponsoring a variety of events.
He said the city didn’t have a central location for its emergency services during Toad Suck Daze.
“We felt like our corner, being a premier spot, would be somewhere very beneficial to the festival,” he said.
Fans launched a Facebook page called Bring Back Stuck on a Truck. It had 714 “likes” as of Monday.
“Lots of past contestants have contacted us and said Toad Suck Daze just won’t be the same,” Druey said.
“The rally cry is, ‘Y’all just took it away from us with no warning,’” but “the same thing would have happened” no matter how much notice was given, he said.
“This is a one-year deal; if it works out, great,” he said. “If we have an opportunity to come up with another crazy contest or bring Stuck on a Truck back, we will definitely look into that,” he said.
“If we were to bring it back, we want to do it for the right reasons — that it’s what the community said it wanted,” he said.
After giving away a red Volkswagen Beetle the first year, the contest became Stuck on a Truck the next year, said Lori Case Melton, who helped create the event.
Melton, vice president of business development at Arvest Bank in Conway, was working at the time as vice president of marketing of First State Bank, which became Centennial.
She said Druey had seen a television segment about endurance contests.
“He said we [could] use our current [Volkswagen] Bug that the bank had,” Melton said.
Druey said he saw an endurance contest on television involving two farmers with their hands on a tractor, and whoever lasted the longest won it.
Then he saw a program on 20/20 about Hands on a Hard Body, an endurance contest in Texas to win a truck.
Druey said he called the person in Texas in charge of the contest and discussed it, plus got a copy of the VHS tape of the event.
“We had all the executives and went to Randy Sims’ house and showed the video,” Druey said. Sims was president of First State Bank and is CEO of Centennial Bank.
“I said, ‘I know y’all think I come up with some crazy stuff, … but this is a real contest,’” Druey said.
Originally, he said Hug a Bug was going to be at the bank.
“I said, ‘You know, that’s a great idea, but let me think on that,’” Melton said.
Actually, she wanted to sleep on it. Melton said she often comes up with marketing ideas in her dreams.
“I actually dreamed we would do it at Toad Suck,” she said.
Melton said that the next day, she told Sims the idea.
She came running in to tell Randy, “We’re going to give a car away at Toad Suck Daze,” she said.
“He said, ‘There’s no way we can afford to give a car away,’ and I said, ‘Watch us.’
“David and I tackled it together and had sponsors.”
Druey said some of the sponsors have been with Stuck on a Truck since the beginning.
They pay for the truck, advertising and other expenses, Druey said.
“We provide all the manpower, and our manpower isn’t cheap,” he said.
Melton said that after the first year, “We said, ‘OK, we’ve got to get a bigger vehicle.’ The Bug could only handle 14 people. We’ve got to get more professional. It was a tent and four of us putting it on that first year,” she said.
“We expanded it and came up with the Stuck on a Truck name and went from there,” she said.
A live webcam was added to the event so people could check on contestants 24 hours a day.
Last year, 25 people competed, and Jacob Odom won after almost four days of the event.
“We never dreamed it was going to be as popular as what it ended up being,” Melton said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.