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Homecoming: ZedFest at the ZedShed


(10/14/2013)

Saturday marked what has become an Annual gathering of Arctic Cat fans at the Zedshed, a barn-turned-Arctic-Cat-museum on the outskirts of New Richmond, Wis.

Amazing sleds, fantastic people and conversations about all-things Arctic Cat... it was the best place in the world that I could be on a cold, blustery day in October.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

This was my second trip to Rich Pederson's farm, the first being a December get-together last year that felt like an Arctic Cat Christmas party.

The Pederson family and friends pushed this year's event forward a couple months and invited more people. I'd say the vibe for this year's event was more like an Open House than it was Christmas party.

They raised an Arctic Cat flag next to Old Glory as a welcome beacon.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

The party invitation asked for people to bring a sled to display, and "to bring BS."

I personally brought ample of the latter. I would soon learn that most of the 100-200 guests did the same.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Doubtful that the Pedersons needed to request any BS from this crowd, though. What else would a bunch of sledders spew while tipping back a few on a Saturday afternoon?

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Inside the ZedShed, the collection of outstanding snowmobiles looked exactly as I remembered it: in perfect rows and in perfect running condition.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

What's especially cool about a party at the Zedshed is that everywhere you look, there are AMAZING Arctic Cat snowmobiles that fight for your attention while you're talking with someone.

The telltale green stripes of Arctic Cat Z and Sno Pro sleds are like magnates for my eyes. And here there are so many such stripes that it's almost overwhelming.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

It was cool to see my friends (L-to_R) Eric Bergstrom, Aaron Scheele, Ansen Scheele and Tom Rowland wander through the Zedshed for the first time, eyes wide and fingers pointing.

 

Arctic Cat King Kats at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

While Rich Pederson and his friends have a penchant for Zs, there are many other classic Arctic Cats in his 50-sled collection, including a couple King Kats.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Likewise, there are a few Sno Pro Cats, including these 1980 beauties.

Nevermind that guy crouching down and checking serial numbers... he's part of the Sno Pro Police Squad.

 

Jim Dimmerman with a Sno Pro at the ZedShed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Just kidding. Actually, it's Jim Dimmerman who, as always, brings his own great energy (and expertise) to any conversation about the Sno Pro days.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

It's cool listening to Jim and Rich (right) talk about these machines. Each brings a unique perspective to such a conversation... Jim with the vantage of having built and raced these sleds on the Arctic Cat factory Sno Pro team, and Rich as a collector who has chased, bought, traded, sold and bought again all number of such sleds.

 

1974 Arctic Cat PDC Sno Pro at the ZedShed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Speaking of chasing and buying Arctic Cat Sno Pro sleds... you're looking at one of the Holy Grails of Arctic Cat collecting: a 1975 PDC 440 that is widely believed to have been Larry Coltom's.

I say "a/the" 1975 PDC because, as the story goes, all but one of these famed oval race sleds was sent to the metal shredder after the '75 season. One machine escaped that fate.

It's traded hands many times in the past three-plus decades and now, after paying a small fortune, Rich owns this storied and extremely rare machine.

 

1974 Arctic Cat PDC Sno Pro at the ZedShed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The telltale sign that this was Coltom's racer is the torch mark on the left side of the handlebar, between the brake lever clamp and the steering post.

Back in the day, Coltom customized his handlebars so that the left side of the bar was further forward than the right. A little heat, a little shove and Larry was ready to go racing!

Seeing this sled was such a privelege. Thanks for making that happen, Rich!

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

While a few of Rich's machines are of the do-not-touch-or-start variety, including the '75 PDC, most of his sleds are runners. And when people are hanging out at the Zedshed, they like to run 'em.

So every half-hour or so Andy Berends would pull the rope on a new sled and rev the sweet music for a minute or so. These moments would halt whatever conversations were happing, and would command our attention and appreciating.

Afterwards, slight haze and smell of pre-mix would waft through the air. It was all pretty much perfect.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

One such conversation that I overheard was between Rich and Tom Rowland (left). Tom had brough a box of strange Arctic Cat parts that he suspected were Sno Pro stuff, perhaps prototype stuff, and was seeking Rich's expertise.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Rich himself has a pretty sizeable stock of parts, Sno Pro and otherwise.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

I should note that while Rich's blood runs green as could be, he's perfectly cool with the whole Arctic Cat-Yamaha partnership.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Besides snowmobiles and signs, there's all kinds of great artwork to see at the Zedshed.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

While the machines and memorabilia are the Zedshed's attractions, they're really not the best thing to experience at this event.

Nope, the best part about this party was the people. And three people who I had a great conversation with were Team Arctic drag racers Scott Kostman (L), Kelly Shilts (Middle) and Billie Jo Kostman (Scott's better half).

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Kids were another really cool aspect to the party. Especially when they're wearing vintage Arcticwear suits.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Yep, it's always good to see little kids hanging around snowmobiles.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Many attendees were were better organized than me and actually followed the request on the invitation to bring a sled.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

That includes Kelly Shilts, who brought his XF 8000 grass drag racer. This sled was so clean you could eat off of it. 

 

Arctic Cat Boss Cat was guest of honor at the ZedShed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The 1975 PDC 440 wasn't the only Arctic Cat royalty at the Zedshed last Saturday.

Making a very special guest appearance was none other than Arctic Cat Boss Cat II!

To say that this was a stunning surprise is a gross understatement. And once again, I must publicly thank Brad Warning for bringing this machine to an event and sharing it with the world. Thanks Brad!

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

What I will NOT thank Brad for is scurrying to cover up this sled before I could nab a decent photo of it.

All he would tell me is that it was one of Steve Thorsen's Scorpion (Arctic Cat) 340 Sno Pro racers.

Hmmm....

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Vintage Arctic Cat oval racer/builder/engine guru Keith Badour was there with his awesome King Kat 800 Super Mod. Keith has some really innovative ideas that could put his machine on the podium at at the Vintage World Championships this season.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

How's this for cool... Frontier Ag & Turf (the area Arctic Cat dealer) had a display of ATVs, and they brought a new Wildcat for demo rides!

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

Now... the ONLY reason I'm including this photo of Kurt Krieger's Moto-Skis, Ski-Doo and botched Kitty Cats is because the fun-loving racer, collector and all-around great guy also happens to work at Frontier, so I can forgive him for his misguided brand affiliation. Plus, he paid me $20 if I'd include this photo in my story.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

I'm going to end this post with a couple photos that I thought were especially cool.

This one is Rich sitting on this first sled, a 1971 Arctic Cat Panther. Behind him is his newest sled, a 2012 F1100 Turbo.

 

Arctic Cat party at the Zedshed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com.

I think this is cool because it totally captures the flavor of the day. People in conversation amongst snowmobiles. So what if the sleds are valuable, we'll still put the dessert bars next to them!

Once again I want to thank the Pederson family for hosting such a great event, as well as all his friends who helped prepare the Zedshed for the big day. It was a perfect day!

Thanks for reading.



Comments (13):

Jeff Holldorf says:
10/14/2013 12:58:00 PM

After an extended period of meditation at the corporate retreat, it was nice to return the Zedquarters and find many Zeds right where I parked them. Good to see the Zedshed still continuing to infect people with "Arctic Cat Fever". Hope no one will suffer hearing loss or long-term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rich and Andy, Thank you.

Jeff

BTW, hanging the "Hayshaker" from the ceiling was the smartest idea, otherwise it would have been a grass drag shootout.
Ted Paterak says:
10/14/2013 4:19:00 PM

Sold some 77 Z engines and parts years back to Rich......Also sent him some old sno pro round cylinder ....Never seen anymore like those.....Tons of transfer ports ......Was always curious about the history of those...
Dulpher says:
10/14/2013 4:23:00 PM

Awesome story! Looks like cool event!!
Rob Vrieze says:
10/14/2013 6:07:00 PM

Way to go Rich! What a great get together. This gathering really showed how much loyalty there is with Arctic Cat. To see all the arctic cat racers, rare snowmobiles like the boss cat II & the 75' PDC & the amount of people that showed up was just amazing. John, another great piece.
Mike F says:
10/14/2013 7:39:00 PM

That is just straight up cool.
S.K.LEPINNET says:
10/14/2013 10:12:00 PM

John- did Kelly haul his sled from New York to Wisconsin for this gathering? One other thing, was that really only your 2nd time at the Zedshed? How can that be so?
Gregg says:
10/15/2013 7:01:00 AM

John great write up,You always bring us super grear stories. This would be a graet place to attend,This has to go on my must attend list.
Now i just have to figure out how to get IN!
John Sandberg says:
10/15/2013 7:16:00 AM

S.K.: No, Kelly lives in the area (not New York). And yes, only my second time there, as Rich and crew know all about my past transgressions. In fact, I'm still on double-secret probation and watched like a hawk.
Mike says:
10/15/2013 9:07:00 AM

Man.... I've driven by this place so many times and never knew about it. Is it open for a tours ever?
Tom Rowland says:
10/15/2013 6:36:00 PM

Thanks to Rich, his family and friends for opening the doors to so many of us and sharing so much. This was a rare opportunity for us to see not just a few, but dozens, of rare Arctic Cats that one just typically does not get a chance to see and touch. Now I have one more reason to look forward to the end of a summer...the Zed Shed party!
Hammer (and LumberHead) says:
10/15/2013 8:19:00 PM

Great pics and great story! How do we get an invite to this awesome event? We can bring enough Maple Syrup and Back Bacon for everybody! I mean I'd even miss hockey for this event! Nice job!
paul james says:
10/16/2013 12:25:00 PM

nice job rich! a little friendly correction on the 75 pdc sleds. rich acually owns larry's 440, but none were shredded, jerry mcgee in n.h. owns dave thompsons 650, nick youker in hudson wi. has loftons 650, brad warning owns thompsons 440x currently in my shop for restoration, and bruce patoka has the unidentified 75 restored by andy avielis, but it is a genuine chassis
Kristopher Reeb says:
10/16/2013 5:59:00 PM

Mark this on the bucket-list. I hope this newly shared tradition continues for years to come as it may take me awhile to get out there!

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