By Stephen King
This past weekend, Naubinway’s 29th Annual Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride were held in and around Naubinway. This year, issues with Covid complicated this event somewhat. However, organizers were able to pull it off and happily announced that for the ride, they had more participants than ever.
The show is actually the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Show and Ride. It is hosted by the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, in Naubinway. In addition, the Top of the Lake Community Association also plays a part in sponsoring the event.
This show was founded all those years ago by two men. Tom King and Charlie Vallier. At the time, Tom owned King’s Motel in Naubinway. Charlie was working for the DNR. But, both were avid collectors of snowmobiles.
At the time, this was a very new hobby. Very few were involved and it had garnered very little attention. So, when Tom and Charlie came to the Naubinway/Engadine Merchant’s Association, (Of which Tom was a part) and told them they had an idea to host an Antique Snowmobile Show, the group let out a collective, “You want to do what!”
Of course, the next question was how much it was going to cost. Tom and Charlie explained the cost would be minimal. So, the group gave the go-a-head to begin.
That year saw about 65 sleds. And, a handful of displayers. However, it was enough of success that the decision was made to continue this event and make it Naubinway’s Annual Snowmobile Show.
Then, a few years into this, as the Show started to grow, the organizers decided to add a ride. On this, it started as a very much unorganized part of the Show. Many of the collectors were starting to come in a day or two before the Show. And, they had the idea of taking their favorite toys out for a ride.
On this, they initially went to a local restaurant, the Beary Patch. About nine miles away, via sled. But, in a few years, they soon outgrew this. And, the Breakfast Ride, as it was now being called, was moved to the Town Hall, in Engadine.
That went well for a few years. Also, participants also started gathering at the bridge, over the Millecoquin’s River. A very picturesque spot. They would then play games and have a bonfire, and enjoy the day.
But, after a few years, the decision was made to make a change. The Breakfast was held in Naubinway, at the Pavilion. And, the ride was moved to Cranberry Lake. Which is on the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club. Which has over 35,000 acres of land.
There, the group again had a bonfire. And, had plenty of space to run the old sleds around. And, then a volunteer donated the use of his food cart and they started serving up hot dogs, brats, chicken on a stick, and other treats.
This lasts until mid-afternoon. Then, the participants were left with nothing to do for the rest of the day. On this, a few years ago, organizers decided to have a Night Ride. They would head up to the Bridge on the Millecoquin’s River and have a bonfire. And, play.
As for the actual Show. It is still on Saturday. The show, while also having seen a few changes over the years, is still held in downtown Naubinway. Along US-2.
In years past, this show was starting to see well over 200 sleds. Some years about 250. With some not being registered, there was a good guess that there were well over 300 sleds there. And, they were actually starting to get concerned about not having enough room.
But, at that time, Naubinway was one of the only Shows in Michigan. Now, there are many. Also, while still a very big hobby, the number of people actually collecting sleds seems to be declining a little. But, the Naubinway Show, even with a smaller number of sleds displayed, is still one of the top Snowmobile Show in Michigan, and in the entire Country.
Now, this show takes a lot of people to make it happen. But, it is Charlie and Marilyn Vallier, two of the main curators and founders of the Museum, that do the lion’s share of the work. They put in countless hours to make this show the success that it has become.
So, the continued success of the Show has a lot to do with them. This year, as noted, the Show set a record with 270 people taking part in the ride. As well, they also had about 165 sleds displayed in the actual show on Saturday. Plus, for the night ride on Friday night, they also saw about 70 people take part.
These numbers still make them one of the best Snowmobile Shows anywhere. Also, as one of the originators of Snowmobile Shows in Michigan, this show still carries a lot of prestige with it. Much like many see the I-500. As not just another snowmobile race, but an icon of the sport. Likewise, many view Naubinway’s Show and Ride as the icon of Snowmobile Shows.
Now, as noted, this year Covid played a part. With that, the actual Breakfast was canceled. As well, the closing dinner, which is usually held at the Town Hall in Engadine was also canceled. However, the rest of the event went off without a hitch.
As noted, this year they set a record for the most riders on Friday. Saw good numbers at the Night Ride. And, again saw very good numbers of both sleds, and people attending the actual show on Saturday.
Raffle Drawing Winners:
1st – 79 John Deere – Aimee Grover, Glen Ellyn, IL
2nd – JD Rocker – Scott Havercroft, Greenbush, MI
3rd – $100 Gas Card – Gilbert Stump, Petoskey, MI
4th – 6 tickets for Shipwreck Museum – Paul Buckler, South Boardman, MI
5th – Snowmobile Print – Jim Witt, Howell, MI
6th – $50 cash – Travis Schneider, Carlyle, IL
Fun Ride Favorite/Antique – Tony Rolfes, 1968 Cougar
Fun Ride Favorite/Vintage – Aaron Oberle family (10 mo old daughter in cutter)
Featured Sled/Most Original – David Dahlquist, 1972, 300, 400, 500 John Deeres
Featured Sled/Most Unique – Kurt Stinson
Featured Sled/Best Restored – Lincoln Hoffman
Tow Strap Award – Cody Smith, SkiDoo with child on the back