By Steve Landon
On a snowy day way back in 2001 a bunch of area vintage snowmobile enthusiast gathered to show and race their sleds at the Marion Fairgrounds / Veterans Memorial Park, it would mark the first time since December 31, 1977 snowmobiles would chew up the ice in competition on the half mile oval. From that humble beginning 14 years ago, the Marion Snowfest has become one of Northern Lower Michigan’s must attend snowmobile events .
Cancelled in 2020 due to an exceptionally mild winter, Snowfest was expected to return in 2021 however, due to COVID19 restrictions officials decided to pull the plug once again leaving many wondering if the event would ever return. Thanks to dedicated volunteers and a board that simply would not give up, the wait is over Snowfest will be back at 100% Saturday February 19th. Incredibly fast vintage snowmobile racing, the ever- popular vintage snowmobile show and the late season swap meet will return. All this family entertainment for just $5.00 per person.
You will not find a harder working bunch than those on the Snowfest crew. Led by Marion Vintage Snowmobile Club president Dave Swiler the group works hard even in the off season to see to it both Snowfest and their October swap meet go on without a hitch. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control made having the events impossible the last few years despite herculin efforts by everyone involved.
“Two Thousand Nineteen was the last year we raced. It took a lot of hard decisions to deal with cancelling due to warm weather and COVID19 the following year. We did have some members that wanted to do other things and step down from the board. Fortunatly we were able to put together a new board and pick up a few new members who have helped prepare and work to get the track built and other projects taken care of so we can have our events this year. It’s been a long time coming, I think everyone is looking forward to Snowfest.
Marion Vintage Snowmobile Club tried to figure out a way to run in 2021, I was in contact with the Health Department to see if we could have concessions and food. We were told we could not get a temporary food serving license for the day due to so many COVID restrictions. I tried to come up with an alternate plan in fact I did, but it was going to be very hard to put it in place. We also went by what some other events and races around the state were doing and what they had done. We just felt it was best to cancel 2021due to so many complications and restrictions.
I think it has been a little tougher to get the club back together and put the race on. We had run into trouble getting insurance this year but that has been corrected. Our communications – radios for the track workers and staff that need them have been a problem. We couldn’t get the headsets that all the track crew use. We had to adapt to some different types and of course the prices have climbed up a lot Those are just some of the speed bumps we have hit, but we’ll work through everything and get it done.
Everyone I have talked to it are very happy and excited to have this event return. I’m thinking this is going to be a big and a fun one to attend.
I am really looking forward to getting back out on the track and giving the green flag and waiving the checkered for the races. It’s been a lot of work but I think this is the best track we’ve had so far. We’ve had a lot of support to make ice and get everything together overall. I want everyone to come out have some fun, enjoy this races and show. I love to see the smile on the fans faces, I talk to as many as I can. I want this to be a good event, I want everyone fans, racers and show sled people to have a very good time and safe fun day. I also want to want to express my thanks to all the club members that have put in the hard work and volunteered their time as well. We can’t make this happen without our club members doing the work and all the volunteers that help us as well as all of our sponsors. Thank you so much to each and every one of you!” – Dave Swiler said
Racing begins this year at 11:00 a.m. will once again be action packed with drivers running ski-ski from start to finish. Vintage Snowmobile Show registration opens at 8:00 a.m. with trophy presentations at 1:00 p.m. This year’s Feature Sled make is Yamaha, however all makes and models are welcome. The swap meet opens at 8:00 a.m. Concessions Available.