NO SNOW? NO PROBLEM

This youngster was greeted with a high-five and cheers when crossing the finish line of the Kitty Kat Race, which went on as planned despite the lack of snowfall. There were eight competitors in this year’s event, ranging in age from 2-9.

HALE – When a snowmobile show comes to town, green grass and mild temperatures are probably the last things one would envision. But this was the case on Saturday in Hale, for those who attended the 14th annual Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Swap.

As Michiganders know, this time of year can be downright brutal but, on Jan. 4, temperatures lingered around a tolerable 30 degrees. And, despite a lack of snow to blanket the grounds – except for a light dusting that afternoon – there was a large turnout of both spectators and registrants, including some familiar faces and a lot of new visitors.

Further proving that the uncommon weather didn’t hinder the snowmobiler’s spirits was the fact that there were 125 machines exhibited, as noted by Becky Eno, who overseen the registration table. This is rather significant, considering that the 2020 count wasn’t too far behind the show’s record-breaking run in 2019, which brought in about 150 sleds.

Held again at American Legion Post 422 of Hale, the venue boasted a packed parking lot for the duration of the free affair.

Those displaying their machines hailed from all across the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, as well as Ohio. Exhibitors showed off antique sleds, from 1968 or older, and vintage snowmobiles, made from 1969-1980.

Each and every one of the machines were worth a double-take, but there were a couple displays which really drew people in like a magnet. This included Scott Havercroft’s 1966 Arctic Cat Polar Express, featuring twin 9-HP Briggs & Stratton engines.

Havercroft, Greenbush, is a long-time participant in the Hale snowmobile show, and this year’s event gave him the chance to highlight his latest creation.

Using miscellaneous parts from snowmobile salvage yards, swap meets, flea markets and yard sales, he pieced the head-turner together in just a few short months. He shared that he started building the sled at the end of October, and even lost a couple weeks of time when he went on vacation.

A collage of photos next to Havercroft’s snowmobile showed his project as it progressed, and also included the following witty paragraph:

“This machine is the culmination of a combination of different machines to form a concoction for conversation. Hope it gets a smile.”

Well, Havercroft got more than a smile, as the sled earned him trophies this year in two categories – Best Rear Engine Sled and Show Favorite.

While Havercroft is no stranger to the show in Hale, there were also a lot of newcomers this Saturday, such as Almont resident Jennifer Kurtzhals.

She and her husband typically collect only vintage snowmobiles but, this past summer they acquired a 1964 Polaris Sno-Traveler, which Kurtzhals brought to her first appearance at the event.

She also showcased a Johnson Rampage and two Johnson Skee-Horse models, laughing that the Sno-Traveler is her only sled that doesn’t have some of the Johnson’s well-known seafoam green hue.

Another event first-timer was youngster Levi Cain, Indian River, who took full advantage of the experience. Not only did he display two of his snowmobiles, but he also got to pick the lucky ticket during the 50/50 raffle.

The winner of the $248 prize was Ron Wilson, Saint Helen – who just so happened to be a first-time attendee also.

For Cain, the excitement continued during the show’s Kitty Kat Race, designed solely for the children in the crowd.

The 2020 challenge saw eight youngsters, ranging in age from 2-9, taking turns on a mini machine as they tried to complete the course in the fastest time.

With a noticeably bigger group of onlookers than there has been in past years, there was no shortage of smiles and applause as they let the children take center stage.

Some of the drivers cruised ahead without hesitation, while others needed a few pointers along the way – as well as some help from their parents to ensure they stayed on course.

Either way, the laughter was well worth it and each participant walked away with a trophy, regardless of their finishing time. Adding to the chuckles was the snow that started to fall during the race, long after the youngsters had already been driving across the grass.

Those joining in on the Kitty Kat contest were Lane Trout of West Branch – who claimed first place with a time of 17 seconds – Sloane Ganocy, Ethan Hunt, Luke Pomaville, Harper Eno, Brady Short, Levi Cain and Shelby Eno.

In addition to the races, antique and vintage displays, raffle and swap meet opportunities, guests could gather indoors at the event site for drinks, or to dine on food prepared by the Legion’s Auxiliary members.

Visitors could also chat up representatives of such groups as the Hale Area Trail Blazers, AuSable Valley Trailriders and Antique Snowmobile Club of America.

The event – sponsored by Wilson & Sons Septic Cleaning, and Wilson Trucking & Excavating – ended with an awards ceremony to acknowledge those with the most standout snowmobiles.

The following is a list of the 16 trophies presented, the winner in each category and the type of sled for which he or she was recognized:

First Place Antique: Dennis Kamyszak, 1965 Arctic Cat Tom Cat.

Second Place Antique: Jeff Johnson, 1968 Sears Hillary.

First Place Vintage: Bryan Lehr, 1974 Ski-Doo TNT.

Second Place Vintage: Gary Linn, 1971 Johnson.

Most Original Antique: Bob Sredzinski, 1968 Johnson.

Most Original Vintage: Becca Lenton, 1969 Ski-Doo 12-3.

Rat Sled: Kye Kurtzhals, 1968 Evinrude.

Best Rear Engine Sled: Scott Havercroft, 1966 Arctic Cat.

Best Display: Jim Blain, Polaris exhibit.

Best Race Sled: Joe Patterson, 1971 Chaparral Thunderbird.

Best Mini Sled: Bob Winkler, 1973 Super Savage.

Youngest Entry: Brady Short, 4, 1972 Kitty Kat.

Show Favorite: Scott Havercroft, 1966 Arctic Cat.

Participant’s Choice: Tim Havercroft, 1972 Ski-Doo NorLite.

*This is a new award for 2020, allowing registrants to vote on their fellow show participants.

Fred Edgerton Trophy for Longest Haul: John McGuirk of Sidney, Ohio.

*Also a new award, this was created in honor of former show coordinator, Edgerton, and his years of dedication to the event. It is given to the participant who traveled the furthest for the show.

Tamra Edgerton Memorial Trophy (for the oldest sled): Charlie Vallier, Engadine, 1959 Pol-Cat.

Along with some new visitors, entrants and trophies, the Hale Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Swap also welcomed a new coordinator in 2020.

As reported, Fred Edgerton stepped down from this role after the 2019 event, but he overseen the Kitty Kat Race this year and continues to help out with other tasks during the show.

The new coordinator, Greg Eno of Hale, said he is grateful that Edgerton has stayed involved and ensured a smooth transition. He adds that he hopes Edgerton will continue to be a part of the show, for as long as he wants.

“I think it went fabulous,” Eno remarked of the latest event. He said he is happy to take over the coordinator’s responsibilities because he has so much respect for the snowmobiling community, and because the show in Hale consistently brings out a fun, friendly and enthusiastic crowd.

A slideshow of photos from the event has been created by Hale Area Trailblazers member Michalle Meyers, which can be accessed by going to https://www.youtube.com and searching for “2020 Hale Antique & Vintage Snowmobile Show.”