The 8th annual ORV Fun Fest took place on a hot and sunny Saturday (Aug. 21) in Gladwin. The riders gathered at the Gladwin County Fairgrounds in the morning to register their vehicles and to grab a scorecard and a map of the 75 mile route. The scorecards were meant to be punched at each designated stop along the route. Smokin’ Bob-B-Que was onsite at the fairgrounds, dishing out breakfast burritos to some of the early arrivals. 

Around 10 a.m., the group took off, with a Gladwin City Police escort, through downtown Gladwin on Cedar Ave. The parade of off road vehicles (ORVs) turned around at Richardson Chevrolet and took a back route back to the fairgrounds for a proper start. 

By 10:30 a.m., ORVs began their trek from the fairgrounds to the first designated stop at the Northern Sites Campground. Each stop set up along the route was sponsored by a local business and featured games to play that would earn a bonus punch on a scorecard if the participants could win the game. By the end of the ride, prizes were awarded to those who had the most total punches, both from stops and from game wins. 

A dunk tank was set up at the Northern Sites Campground for riders to take a shot at dunking a volunteer that many of the riders considered “lucky,” on account of the rapidly rising temperature. Those who were successful in dunking the woman set up in the tank received their bonus punch and made their way to the second stop. 

The Richardson Chevrolet stop was located at the east end of Highwood Rd. and featured a game of ladder ball. Riders were given two ladder ball bolas to test their skill. Before each person made their toss, they were offered a third bola in exchange for a dollar. This would give them another chance at a bonus punch on their scorecard and also went to aiding Skeels Christian School’s athletic program. 

After the second stop, the ORVs took shade on a long stretch of route that ran through the woods. This trail led to the Riverwalk Place stop, which had a game of ring-toss for riders to enjoy. The fourth stop was the Maverick Ford stop, near the Lame Duck Truck Trail. Maverick had an interesting game of “belt bowling” set up in which riders would tie a stretchy piece of fabric with a ball at the end to their waist and use their hips to knock down the set up bowling pins. This was quite an event to watch, and many riders stuck around a bit longer for the laughs. 

The Secord Township Hall was the next stop and had a simplified game of bocci ball set up as their game. Shortly after the fifth stop, the Secord Lake Marina had cornhole boards set up for riders to toss for their chance at another bonus punch. 

An ice cream stop was in order at the Corner House, where they got creative with a “cone-pong” game. For this game, riders would need to knock a ping-pong ball into an empty ice cream cone to win. This was another amusing competition to watch, and a chance for the riders, who were nearing the end of their 90 degree day on the trails, to enjoy a frozen treat. 

Central/Recker Motor Sports sponsored the final stop with the traditional mud pit at the fairgrounds. As ORVs funneled back into the fairgrounds, riders stopped by Smokin’ Bob-B-Que for a BBQ dinner. Others took their vehicles by a power washing station set up by Blue Skies Window Cleaning, and made a donation in order to give their ORV a much needed wash. Once everyone had arrived, representatives from Gladwin County Economic Development Corporation and the Gladwin County Chamber of Commerce gathered everyone’s attention to begin announcing prizes to various winners. 

The winner for total scorecard punches was the group of Jason Biskner, Stacey Biskner, Brett Eichhorn, Candace Smith. The group was awarded with a $450 valued prize bundle of ORV accessories from ACE Hardware. An award for furthest traveled was given to Jimmy Hamann from Sioux Falls, SD. Jimmy was given another ORV accessory bundle courtesy of Greaves Body Shop. An award for oldest rider went to John Sydenstricker, youngest rider to a four-year-old boy riding along with his family, and muddiest rider to Jon Evans. Each recipient of these three awards received custom mug and cup sets that were engraved by S & H Engraving. 

Afterward, Smokin’ Bob-B-Que held a drawing strictly for sponsors of the event for a free 25 person catering. The Hall-Kokotovich Funeral Home won the catering and will soon be enjoying their free meal. A handgun raffle courtesy of ACE Hardware was also held after the event, with proceeds going toward the ORV event. 

After taking the last year off, this year’s ORV Fun Fest was an event to remember. Riders from all over came together and shared laughs and friendly competition all along the trails. Couples, families, friends and solo riders all mingled at each of the stops and had an opportunity to learn more about local business while having fun and touring the beautiful countryside of Michigan’s Backyard. 

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