The Langlade County Snowmobile Council Ride-In is still on — though, barring an unlikely onslaught of snow, no one will actually be riding in.
The annual ride-in, perhaps the area’s largest snowmobiler gathering of the year, will take place at the Lily Sno-Birds Snowmobile Club from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 27.
Unlike most years, however, lack of snow this winter has thus far resulted in trails remaining closed, prohibiting attendees from actually traveling to Saturday’s meeting on their snowmobiles.
“I really think we’re going to have a great crowd,” Snowmobile Council and Antigo Sno-Drifters Club President Tim Grall said. “People didn’t think that we were going to hold it, but we always do it the last Saturday in January each year, and everybody looks forward to this event, so we’re still going to have a little shindig.”
Grall said the event — which will feature a raffle, as well as free food and beverages — is open to the public.
“This is the 43rd year we’ve done it, and it is going to be one of the first ones that we haven’t rode snowmobiles to. But they can all come by car, truck, horse, rickshaw — they can all come,” he laughed. “It’s intended to get people together, have a little fun, a little camaraderie — that’s why we serve chili, pizza, sandwiches, and refreshments.”
Grall said local businesses have donated a wide range of prizes that will be given away Saturday — from snowmobile paraphernalia such as oil and hats to gift cards for gas and restaurants.
Proceeds from the raffle will be used to fund next year’s event.
According to Jim Hoffman, president of the Lily Sno-Birds, some years, “hundreds upon hundreds” of people attend, though the inaccessibility of the trails has left him unsure of how large a crowd will be seen this year.
“We’re still expecting a fairly decent turnout, but without a doubt, I’d have to say that it’s going to be less people. I’m hoping it will be a good time — but I’m always happy when it’s over,” Hoffman laughed. “Tim and I kind of look at each other when it’s over and say, ‘Oh, I’m glad that’s done.’ There’s a lot to organize with all the food coming in and everything with the club.”
This year, those who attend the meet-up will have a chance to see recent renovations the Sno-Birds made to their clubhouse, which, uniquely, is 100% member-owned.
“We’re the only club in the state that serves food and has a bar,” Hoffman said. “The place means everything to us as far as the people that are making it function and everybody else that stops in there. It’s kind of like a key destination for snowmobilers in the winter to come to the Lily Sno-Birds Clubhouse.”