The 12th annual Cruiserfest moved forward in its entirety starting with Friday night's parade and fireworks and continued throughout Saturday on the ice and around the town of Minocqua as snowmobiling enthusiasts braved the cold temperatures and frigid wind chills.


This year's event, sponsored by the Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club, marked its 12th year as the club's annual snowmobile festival featured the radar run, vendors, fireworks, displays, swap meets, awards presentations, raffles, dancing and food and music.


Warm temperatures leading up to Saturday had Cruiserfest officials concerned about ice conditions, but director Michelle Bird said testing of the ice was completed every four days to ensure safety. Crews started preparations last Wednesday, plowing and grooming the ice for the speed runs.


However, as the temperatures plummeted late in the week, the concerns about conditions were set aside. In fact, the conditions couldn't have been better. Bird said earlier in the week that those attending may have had to park their cars farther apart than usual if parking was to be allowed on the lake as it had been in years past. As it turned out that wasn't a concern Saturday.


Bird's estimates that anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people would attend the two-day festival were right on the mark and may have surpassed those estimates. This year's event included a few new features, including the enclosed 24- by 60-foot heated tent housing up to six vendors, food and music - an addition that turned out to be well appreciated. The tent was filled with those looking to warm up with good food and a place out of the wind. Meatball sandwiches were served at the American Legion Hall and on the ice.


Another new event this year, one that drew just about everyone out of the warm tent, was the bikini run. Several scantily-clad women braved the elements to jump on a sled and ride it down the track. This year, a percentage of the proceeds from the Bikini Run were raised for a local charity.


The Cruiserfest committee began planning in September, lining up vendors, finding volunteers, seeking sponsors and site preparation. The radar run continued to be the main attraction, with 26 classes on a 660-foot hard pack and ice tracks. The radar run awards presentation was held Saturday afternoon, with cash prizes and trophies for the fastest speed in each class.


More than just a winter activity, Cruiserfest is a "major social event," Kristy Becker said. Becker coordinates the silent auction. "It's the largest winter event in the area at that time of year." It's one supported by area businesses not only in sponsorship but in volunteer efforts during set-up and during the event. Some of this year's sponsors were the American Transmission Company, Dean Distributing/Budweiser, Slo's Pub, the Pointe Hotel & Suites, Trig's, the Thirsty Whale and Wausau Homes/Minocqua. Ski-Doo, Polaris, Yamaha and Arctic Cat made their presence on the ice as well.


Cruiserfest proceeds support the snowmobile club. Profits in 2011 were 13 percent more than in 2010, Bird said. The Cross Country Cruisers are responsible for the upkeep of 90 miles of snowmobile trails in Oneida and Vilas counties. The club is all-volunteer - any time provided to the club for functions or trail maintenance is donated by members. Of the more than 250 Cross Country Cruisers members, usually at least 100 volunteer for Cruiserfest.


For more information visit www.cruiserfest.org; call 715-439-0111; or email birdteam@firstweber.com.


C.M. Schmidlkofer may be reached at cschmidlkofer@lakelandtimes.com.

CruiserFest 2012.. It’s a Wrap!