A beautiful day and great conditions for snowmobiling brought out a record 220 people for the fourth Mayors Trail Ride on the Rum River Saturday.
“I’m having a blast,” said Tom McQuay of Oak Grove, who credited veteran Mayors Trail Ride participant Steve Johnson of Andover for convincing him to try this event for the first time.
Johnson could tell there were a lot more snowmobile riders than last year, which had to be delayed and eventually drew 122 people due to late snowfalls in the winter. The ride was canceled two years ago because it was not cold enough with not that much snow, according to the ride organizers. The last record number of riders for this event was around 160 three years ago, said Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce President Peter Turok.
Not all 220 snowmobile riders left the Anoka County Fairgrounds at once. Registration started at 10 a.m., but some showed up before then to get an early start. The groups were spaced out and no incidents were reported, according to the event organizers.
Johnson said the Rum River is a great place to ride because it is wide open and everyone was very responsible.
“I think it represented the snowmobiler community really well,” Johnson said.
When the ride officially concluded 3 p.m, an overflow crowd packed McDuff’s Bar and Grill in Ramsey to share stories and a beverage with their fellow riders and wait for the chance to win prizes such as snowmobile jackets and clothing from Polaris or gift certificates.
“This is a special event for local area business,” said Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look, who joined the mayors or councilmembers from Andover, Anoka, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey and St. Francis to ride the approximately 20-mile route from Anoka to St. Francis on the Rum River and make stops at nine different businesses along the way.
Not all riders were from Anoka County, but the $4,200 raised will benefit local organizations.
Andover, Anoka and Ramsey donated its proceeds totaling $2,100 to Youth First Community of Promise, which provides after-school neighborhood centers for teenagers.
Nowthen will donate $700 to the Nowthen Lions Club, which, in turn, will give scholarships to kids who go to various camps whether it be 4-H or Boy Scouts, according to Nowthen Mayor Bill Schulz.
Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin was the only mayor unable to attend this ride because his daughter was getting married the same day. Councilmember Dan Denno went in his stead. Oak Grove will contribute its $700 share to the Lake George Conservation Club for efforts to eliminate invasive plant species.
The St. Francis Ambassador Club is another recipient of this year’s Mayors Trail Ride proceeds, according to Mayor Jerry Tveit. It also will receive $700.
“My favorite part (of this ride) is being with friends and family. It’s a great family event,” said Tveit, as he and his wife Megan prepared to ride with several other family members.
Schulz is unable to ride a snowmobile anymore, but he goes to support the group and to visit with people at the establishments. One of the stops in Nowthen is the Northwoods Bar and Grill. Schulz has seen snowmobilers pull up to this establishment throughout the winter.
Perched right along the Rum River, McDuff’s manager Barb Ramacher does see snowmobilers ride in for dinner. She loved the sight of over 200 snowmobilers riding in for the conclusion of the Mayors Trail Ride, Ramacher said.
According to the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association, the economic impact of snowmobiling in Minnesota is an estimated $1 billion every year. There are 253,885 snowmobiles registered in Minnesota. Registration fees, trail stickers and unrefunded gas tax revenue pays for the maintenance of approximately 22,000 miles of trails.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]