Fireworks, music, snowmobiles, bikinis and more will be featured at the Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club’s biggest event of the year.
The 14th annual Cruiserfest gets under way on Lake Minocqua Friday, Feb. 7, and will continue Saturday, Feb. 8.
Tom Bird, vice president of the Cross Country Cruisers and a Cruiserfest event coordinator, said preparation has been ongoing.
“The past couple of months we’ve been working on getting sponsorships, coordinating food ... working with the St. Germain Racing Club, track preparations, marketing the event,” Bird said.
They have been at work on a special tool as well.
“We’ve actually been building our own ice shaver out of one of our older drags,” Bird said.
It looks like it will work out well.
“We rented [an ice shaver] last year and we realized we could build one and maybe rent it out ourselves.”
During the week leading up to the event, Lee “Ice Man” Wilke, who takes the lead on whatever happens out on the ice, will “basically live out there Tuesday through the event,” Bird said.
“Lee and his crew will start basically plowing the ice, and then, once we get all the snow off of it and the course set, then shaving the ice so it’s completely smooth for the big runners, because we’re hoping for speeds in excess of 180 miles an hour,” Bird said.
“Any little deviation in the ice can be a scary thing for those guys.”
On Friday, there will be bonfires, food, beverages and music at the heated tent. At 6:15 p.m. there will be a snowmobile parade from Stack’s Bay to the Aqua Bowl.
There will be fireworks Friday night, too, “thanks to the generosity of the Town of Minocqua and the chamber of commerce, as well as the Cruisers,” Bird said.
“We thought maybe we weren’t going to be able to have them this year, due to funds, but when the town and the chamber stepped up we stepped up with the other amount, because everybody really enjoys that.”
The fireworks will be set off over Lake Minocqua around 7 p.m.
Saturday the radar runs, by St. Germain Racing Club, should get under way around 10:30 a.m., with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“We’ll have, hopefully, hundreds of runners,” Bird said. “We’ve got 30 different classes.”
There will be a 1,000-foot shaved ice track and a hard-pack snow track, with a 2,000-foot shut-down area.
“The average radar runner doesn’t need that much, but when you’ve got the big guys going 140-plus miles an hour, they need that shut-down area,” Bird said.
Cruiserfest will include the fourth annual bikini races, which are also radar runs.
“They are going for top speed and they are also going for top pledges raised,” Bird said.
Last year, 15 women competed in the bikini run. Bird anticipates similar participation this year.
“Fifty percent of the proceeds go to the Pink Ribbon Riders, which is a breast cancer support outfit, and the other half goes to the trail fund,” Bird said.
Pink Ribbon Riders is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to men and women diagnosed with breast cancer.
The bikini runs are set to start at 2 p.m. Bird noted that they are still looking for more bikini runners. A minimum $50 sponsorship is required.
All racers must check in and turn in their pledge sheets and monies at the Cruiserfest Gear Station located inside the main tent by 1 p.m. Saturday and attend a pre-race meeting.
Of course, there will be a place to warm up and get some trackside nourishment Saturday. There will be a morning breakfast available in the tent with chili, brats and burgers available later on.
“This is our biggest annual fundraiser,” Bird said. “The Cruisers are 100 percent volunteer, so all the money we raise, aside from the part going to the Pink Ribbon Riders, goes right back into the trail system; our equipment, fuel, everything we need to make sure we’ve got great trails here.”
In the past, Cruiserfest ended with a dinner at the American Legion Hall Saturday evening, but that isn’t the case this year.
“We’re not having a dinner this year, so literally everything will be on the ice Friday and Saturday,” Bird said.
And that ice is looking good.
“We are thrilled with the ice this year,” Bird said. “It’s always nerve-wracking. Last year we only had about 17 inches of ice, which is definitely safe, and we can have the event on 17, but we ... had ice towards The Beacons that was less than that, so we had to kind of move the track.
“The nice thing is that the main snowmobile route really pounds down and gives us good ice.”
Bird also said the groomer would be out during the week prior to Cruiserfest, running the track area to help build even more ice.
“Thickness of ice we don’t have to worry about this year, which is really nice,” he said.
On Friday, Feb. 7, from 6-9 p.m. at the heated tent on Lake Minocqua, there will be bonfires, food, beverages and music. At 6:15 p.m. there will be a snowmobile parade from Stack’s Bay to the Aqua Bowl. Fireworks will be set off over Lake Minocqua at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8, will feature the radar runs. Breakfast will be served in the heated tent from 8-11 a.m. and chili, brats, burgers and beverages will be available from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Registration for the radar runs is at 9:30 a.m., with the runs beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thirty classes will compete on hard-pack snow and the shaved ice track. The bikini races (ladies only) get under way at 2 p.m.
There will be an awards presentation in the tent following the racing events.
From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, there will be groomer rides and dealer displays to check out. A swap meet will be held. Sell your sled or ATV. Attendees can bring their vintage snowmobile for the Vintage Sled Display that will take place all day.
There will be raffles, too.
For more information about Cruiserfest, call 715-439-0111; email email@example.com; or visit www.snowmobilewi.com.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.