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Hey, Old Timers
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Technically, Christmas may be over, but for snowmobile enthusiasts, it's just around the corner.

"These guys wait all year for this," said Tom Holmes, president of the Midnite Riders Trail Association.

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"This" is the Old Timers Snowmobile Run in Lake Park, which is set for Saturday, Feb. 4.

The massive event brings in antique snowmobiles and their riders from all over.

"They come from as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida," said Holmes, who adds that last year's event saw 400 to 500 old sleds in the show and about 2,500 in the event.

"The antique snowmobile show is just basically for bragging rights and trophies," said Holmes, adding that the show goes from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Hundreds of old models dating back as early as the 1940s to as recent as the mid '80s will be lined up at the Lake Park Liquor Store for all to admire.

"They have to be at least 25 years old to be in it," said Holmes. "Some guys work all year round on their old sleds to get them ready for this weekend."

During the show, antique snowmobile lovers will be swapping the parts for the hobby that make their hearts tick.

"There will be a swap meet for guys to buy or trade old parts for old snowmobiles," said Holmes, "so if they're trying to build for next year but are missing a part, they can maybe find it there."

At 10 a.m., the awards, which are likely to be pretty coveted, will be handed out to 36 "Best in Show" winners in 18 different sections, both in Original Build and Restored categories.

There will also be a raffle, with prizes from the eight different establishments that act as the pit stops for the ride.

"This is our one and only fundraiser for the year," said Holmes, who says the Midnite Riders have 74 miles of trails to take care of.

"All proceeds go toward trail development and grooming operations for the year," added Holmes.

At 10:30, the real fun begins. "Everybody pretty much takes off at the same time, so there's nothing but a cloud of smoke and the roaring of engines," said Holmes, "and away we go!"

The run, which begins in Lake Park, stretches 37 miles, but the riders decide how far they want their babies to go. "There are eight stops, but really, there is no real end," said Holmes, who says the pit stops include Audubon, Pit 6-11, Cormorant Sportsman's Club, the Roadhouse on Lake Ida, the Cormorant Pub, the Cormorant Inn and Randy's Bar on Lake Eunice.

In addition to the old timers are the new timers that ride along just incase there's a breakdown.

"Usually what we'll see are the dads and uncles riding the old sleds, while the kids ride the new sleds," said Holmes. "That way if something happens, they're there to help."

But Holmes also says breakdowns don't usually end up being too big of a deal to the old pros who know their sleds.

"They're the ones that self-built them, so they know how to self-fix them," said Holmes, adding that many times the riders bring spare parts along just in case.

The riders who choose to hit all eight pit stops can expect an all-day event, with the last of the crew coming in at around 6 p.m.

Holmes says he doesn't expect snow accumulations (or lack there of) to be an issue.

"We go snow or no-snow," said Holmes, who adds that some guys have just come to show the machines. "We don't cancel and we don't postpone."

For more information, log on to www.midnightriders.com or call Tom Holmes at 218-849-4349.

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