MARCH 2018

Dear MSA members,

As I sit down and write this last column for the 2017-18 season, I am once again amazed at how fast the seasons go by! We have had another wacky winter this snowmobile season, and hopefully all of you have had a great time making memories together. I think that everyone was anticipating that the heavy early snows were going to give us a long winter playground to enjoy for months to come. And then like so many seasons before this one, Old Man Winter decided to take some time off in January and neglect his responsibilities. Several events in the lower half of the state that were planned for January were affected by unseasonable temperatures. The shows went on for many, but couldn’t include quality riding. Fortunately, as I write this letter in early February, it looks like winter has returned and we are back in business!

Not only is our sport weather dependent for planning special trips and vacations, the special charity events also depend on good snowfall and really suffer when participation is down due to unfavorable conditions. I want to thank all of the charity volunteers who tirelessly work behind the scenes to organize and make these worthwhile events happen every year — even when the conditions aren’t optimal. They make the best out of a difficult situation and remind us all of what’s truly important — helping others when in need. Supporting these not-for-profit events is also a positive reflection on our snowmobiling communities, which gives us a chance to give back to deserving organizations.

Combined Event a Huge Success

Despite what was looking like a dismal forecast, I am happy to announce that the 1st Annual ISA/MSA Ride In at the Bay Mills Resort in Brimley was a huge success! This event took place Jan. 18- 20. If you were there, I know you had a great time! If you couldn’t make it this season, please plan on joining us next year for the 2nd Annual ISA/MSA Ride In! The snowfall in the area was definitely lower than average, but we were able to hold the event, which turned out to be great riding for all! And that’s a good thing, because I was absolutely amazed on how much time and effort went into the planning and preparation for this event by our Indiana friends!

Every good plan starts with an idea … One of the highlights of going to the International Snowmobile Congress (ISC) every year is meeting new friends and sharing stories with folks from other parts of the country. Snowmobilers have the same common interests and challenges in other parts of the country and even other parts of the world as we do in Michigan. Our neighbors just to the south of us enjoy riding in Wisconsin and Michigan as part of their winter routine.

I was pondering one day what the possibility would be to invite the Indiana Association to join us for our Ride In. Low attendance over the last several years has made it difficult to provide a cost effective and worthwhile event. I mentioned this idea or concept to MSA’s Executive Director Bill Manson. Bill told me that the Indiana Association actually has a very well attended event every year, and  he was thinking along those same lines.

It wasn’t very long until I discovered that MSA could learn a great deal from our ISA friends. MSA would soon benefit greatly by working and learning from them. MSA would soon join ISA in “their” Ride In plans; forming a new and exciting partnership.

Out of the Mind of Deak

The master mind and promoter of the ISA Ride In for nearly three decades is a gentleman named Deak Thornton. I mention his name because he is definitely worthy of mention! Throughout the years Deak has served the Indiana Association as president and board member among many other positions. His high energy and gift of imagination is why the ISA Ride In is so popular and well attended. When asked if we could combine events and resources, he graciously accepted. During the early conference calls with Deak, it was clear that he knew how to entertain and challenge people. That’s exactly what several of us thought was needed for our MSA event — a shot in the arm. Deak and the many Indiana volunteers were absolutely incredible to work with and the excitement that they conveyed was contagious!

This three-day event was crammed with many activities, good food, and great camaraderie. More than 100 snowmobilers attended from Indiana and Michigan, which for this first time combined event, was fantastic. Here are just a few of the notable games during the scavenger hunt that we enjoyed as a group:

  • Being the first to solve the mystery word and slogan – $150
  • Being the first to solve the correct “product”- $100
  • The highest poker hand prize- $300
  • The lowest poker hand prize- $200
  • Finding the “Evil Jesture” (full size mannequin in costume placed in a tree) – $300
  • Locating “Genuine Joe” (full size mannequin wearing an orange jumpsuit placed in a tree) – $300
  • “Lucky Horse” (orange numbered wooden horses hidden along the trail route to be used in horse race) – win $300, place $125, and show $75
  • Small stuffed animals hidden along trailside – $20 each
  • Large stuffed animals hidden along trailside – $30 each

The opportunity to win cash prizes definitely attracted many of the participants, and the competitive spirit was displayed by many of the team players. It was clear that many of the experienced Indiana riders have enjoyed this event for years, and so many had stories to share with their “NEW” Michigan friends. Our Indiana friends even provided tips on how to play the games more effectively. It was great to see alliances being built. Others at the event chose to just ride and explore on their own, while some came just for the fellowship. There was even a game for non-riders within the resort itself that made it fun for everybody.

The Ride In  was only $229 per person which included; Thursday-Saturday night lodging, full breakfasts Friday and Saturday morning, Friday Chuck Wagon trail luncheon, Friday night Seafood Buffet, Saturday night banquet dinner, free admission to all official games, and the excitement of a lifetime!

Look for Future Details

After the Saturday night festivities were winding down, the Indiana and Michigan planning committees discussed the event and agreed to have it again next January. Details on the 2nd Annual ISA/MSA Ride-In will be in the early issues of the Michigan Snowmobile News this fall.

Getting together with others is what makes our sport so much fun. One of the Ride Ins that I attended more than 10 years ago made such an impact on my life that I decided to stay involved in organized snowmobiling. I trust that you remain active in your local clubs and councils, and encourage you to attend our bimonthly MSA meetings. We would love to see you!

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your faithful and continued support of MSA. Without your commitment and financial support, we wouldn’t be able to continue to make the differences for our sport that is so crucially needed today. Enjoy the spring and summer. We will talk again in the fall.