It's time to pull those old Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski Doo sleds out from the shed, shine them up and fire up the engines: The Midnite Riders Snowmobile Club is hosting its annual Old Timers Run this coming Saturday, Feb. 3.
A tradition among lakes area snowmobiling enthusiasts since the early 1990s, the run is an opportunity to enjoy a fun ride along tree-lined trails while testing out your riding skills and the durability of your sled. Prizes are also awarded to the best looking and most creatively decorated sleds in several categories prior to the start of the run.
A popular event for snowmobile riding and collecting enthusiasts alike, the Old Timer's Run draws hundreds of visitors to the tiny community of Lake Park - the numbers can even jump up into the thousands when the weather conditions are right.
"If we have good snow, then it's a great year (for attendance), and when there's low snow, it's pretty mediocre," says Bill Livdahl, president of the Midnite Riders. "This year the trails are all groomed and in good shape, but we could always use more snow."
Sleds begin congregating outside the Lake Park Liquor Store at about 8 a.m. on the morning of the event, though the ride itself doesn't start until 10:30 a.m. That's because the judging for the vintage sleds - 25 years or older - gets underway bright and early.
"The judging is only for the vintage sleds," said Livdahl, though the run itself is open to snowmobiles both old and new. One exception to this judging rule is the kids' category, which was just added this year. "It's for beginner sleds only, but they can be any age," Livdahl explained.
The public is welcome to come view all of the sleds, he added; there will also be 2018 Old Timer's Run clothing and raffle tickets available inside the liquor store.
Prizes will be awarded at 10 a.m., followed by the rider's meeting at 10:15. The 39-mile ride gets underway promptly at 10:30, though not everyone chooses to follow the same route.
"Some go to Audubon first, then head south, while some just head straight south out of Lake Park," Livdahl said, noting that while there's no set route to follow, there are nine stops along the run, with raffle prizes awarded at each stop.
Unlike past years, however, the club has decided to do the raffles a little differently this time, he added.
"Normally we have had buckets at every stop for people to drop in their ticket stubs," said Livdahl. "This year we will go with a standard raffle ticket and eliminate the buckets. If you sign up for a raffle ticket, you will automatically be entered for all nine chances to win."
A total of over $5,000 in prizes will be awarded, with the top prize being a 2018 WE Fest VIP ticket package, plus $500 in cash.
Tickets are $10 each, with proceeds going toward maintenance and development of the Midnite Riders' trail system, which now encompasses over 70 miles in the Lake Park, Audubon and Cormorant Lakes area.
"It's a fundraiser for our club and for our trail development," said Livdahl. "Every bit helps."
Tickets may be purchased at any of the nine stops along the run, including the Lake Park Liquor Store (where the run begins and ends), Audubon Liquors, Hooligan's, Pit 611, Cormorant Spotrsman's Club, TJ's Booze & Bistro (formerly Randy's), Cormorant Pub, Cormorant Inn and The Roadhouse.
Established in 1967, the Midnite Riders Snowmobile Club currently includes approximately 100 members, of all ages and skill levels. Putting together the Old Timers Run each year is a big project for the club's membership, Livdahl said, but they do get help from the Lake Park firefighters and city maintenance crews, who help get the liquor store lot cleared and parking organized.
There are also dozens of businesses that sponsor the run, including BTD Manufacturing, TEAM Industries, Seaberg Power Sports, Leighton Broadcasting, TS Recreational Salvage, Extreme Motorsports and the Cormorant Store.
"We get help from a wide variety of people," Livdahl said. "This wouldn't be possible without them."
For more information, please visit the Midnite Riders' Facebook page, or call Livdahl at 701-866-1580.