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Minnesota ATV Ride and Rally coming to Fifty Lakes

The event serves as a convention for the ATV Association of Minnesota

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FIFTY LAKES — The Whitefish Chain will soon play host to scores of four-wheelers, three-wheelers and side-by-sides as the ATV Minnesota Ride and Rally comes to Fifty Lakes on Friday-Sunday, Sept. 16-18.

The Ride and Rally began in the mid-1980s, just a few years after the ATV Association of Minnesota was founded. This is the first time the event will take place in Fifty Lakes, and the first time in the area since Outing hosted the event in 2005.

“We like to pick a place in Minnesota to meet every year – the last two years have been up in Ely, but we like to switch around to different communities,” said Perry May, ATV Association of Minnesota state director.

The Ride and Rally serves as an annual state convention for the ATV Association of Minnesota, which is made up of roughly 70 individual ATV clubs statewide, and for ATV enthusiasts in general.

“The purpose is just to network with our clubs and our members, but also to show off different riding areas in Minnesota and communities that have nice trail systems and, of course, amenities to go with them – lodging, camping, places to eat and places of interest,” May said. “The Fifty Lakes/Crosslake area, and really reaching down to the Brainerd lakes area, is tremendous for all kinds of things.”

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May said attendees can expect to see many in the ATV business at the event, from large-scale manufacturers like Polaris and Textron (which owns Arctic Cat) to perhaps dozens of companies in the ATV accessory business like Gboost and Duraclutch – both of which are based in the lakes area.

“The sport of ATV recreation is one of the fastest growing sports - not only in Minnesota, but in the United States,” May said. “In the Minnesota economy itself, it generates roughly $1 billion of revenue for state area businesses.”

He said the event is a great reminder that ATV riding is not just for the young and “extreme” individuals many manufacturers seem to market toward.

“A lot of people's image of an ATV rider is kind of what you see on TV, with things like Polaris showing a commercial with mudders and people tearing up turf, but you see a lot of couples and families that come to this,” May said. “There are people who take these (ATVs) out for picnics. The other neat thing is seeing kids as young as 12 years old being certified, and I’ve ridden with members this year all the way up to 86 years old.”

May described the Ride and Rally as a wonderful means of networking with businesses and other clubs, as well as socializing with like-minded enthusiasts and political officials – many politicians from local city council members all the way up to the governor are typically invited to the event.

For the 2022 convention, things are changing slightly, becoming somewhat less formal.

“In past years, the convention was always kind of a sit-down banquet sort of thing with a live auction after that,” May said. “This year, we are changing things up and bringing in food trucks … and we are trying to encourage more of the social networking that goes on.”

Additionally, a fireworks display — sponsored by the city of Fifty Lakes — and a raffle will take place, along with live music by Adam Pearce and several local bands.

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May said the Ride and Rally typically has roughly 400 registrations, but he expects quite a few walk-ins – ATV users and enthusiasts who are not members of the association – to stop by the event.

“Fifty Lakes Days sees more than 1,000 people,” May said. “It is really a guess on my part, but maybe we could see 1,000 people.”

In addition to promoting ATVs and the hobby of trail riding, May said the event is a chance to showcase some of the beautiful locations Minnesota has to offer. In this case, the Fifty Lakes/Crosslake area is what is on display.

“It is a kind of exposure for the area, showing that there are some nice trails and nice amenities for people to come back to,” May said. “If you go to a resort, most people want to get on a boat and maybe go fishing, but I think people also want to do other things. Maybe they want to hike or bike, and maybe they want to ATV. I think the people coming to the lakes area are more diverse in their recreational experiences today.”

Registration will take place Friday, Sept. 16, at the Fifty Lakes Community Center.

Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com . Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan .

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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