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Wide Open Into Winter: The Country Cat Open House


(10/6/2013)

This weekend I joined about 500-700 enthusiasts at the Country Cat Open House in Sauk Centre, Minn., to usher in the season.

Man, do I love an Open House, especially one that includes all the right ingredients: conversation, deals, movies, pork sandwiches, kids and plenty of seat time.

 

Country Cat Open House

I knew from the moment I saw the parking lot at Country Cat that this would be a well-attended open house. No surprise though, as anyone who does business with these guys will attest to the quality that they put into everything they do.

 

Country Cat Open House

It's pretty cool to walk up to a dealership's open house and see the door open (literally) with a bunch of Cat gear-clad kids hanging out.

 

Country Cat Open House

Inside, the racks were well stocked with clothing, parts and accessories. People were walking around, arms full with oil, special deals and whatever else caught their eye.

 

Country Cat Open House

And of course the parts counter was buzzing with activity, no doubt helped by the 15% discount being offered on most items during the day.

 

Country Cat P.J. Wanderscheid display

Country Cat is a huge dealership, with several display areas including this section dedicated to the team's oval racing success. When you're the only 4-time winner of the Eagle River World Championship, as P.J. Wanderscheid and the team have accomplished during their career, you gotta have a display commemorating the highlights.

 

P.J. Wanderscheid shows some of the inventory at Country Cat

Speaking of P.J., he was running around this day talking with enthusiasts and helping everything run smoothly. He paused long enough to let me snap a shot in an area of their parts/clothing inventory.

Seriously, I've never seen so much inventory in one location! They have aisles upon aisles just like this one, each stacked floor-to-ceiling with everything from the Arctic Cat arsenal. They're FULLY committed to their goal of having the largest retail inventory of Arctic Cat product in the world.

 

P.J. Wanderscheid and one of the carbon fiber tunnels for his race sled.

P.J. was also kind enough to show the carbon fiber tunnel they built for this year's Champ oval sled. I lifted this thing and it weighs about as much as a boot.

These guys are already ramping up their race effort for the upcoming season. P.J. is healthy and fired up.

 

Country Cat Open House

Outside there were lots of new and pre-owned machines at screamin' deals.

 

Country Cat Open House

Back inside one of the other display areas, there were rows of brand-new sleds and ATVs.

 

Country Cat Open House

I can't count how many open houses I've been to in my 73 years of snowmobiling, but I know it's A LOT. I've seen all manner events, from small mom-and-pop dealerships that have two sleds on display to full-blown festivals like this one at Country Cat.

And without question the image in my mind from every open house I've been to is that of someone sitting on a sled and dreaming. For some, the dream might be a fantasy at this point in their life, while for others it's the last little "shove" that will result in a new sled going home on a trailer.

Either way, it's an annual rite of autumn that feeds the excitement that builds within us.

I love that.

 

Country Cat Open House

The other element that happens at every open house is conversation, whether it's between fellow snowmobile club members talking about projects, friends laughing about past rides while making plans for upcoming adventures or any of the other many topics common to sledders.

The conversation in the above image between Arctic Cat collectors (L-to-R) Tom Ische, Brianna Ische, Wayne Kuster and Nancy Ische concerned the various horse-trading of vintage Cats. These two families have both bought/sold/traded each other sleds over the years and it sounded to me like another deal was being hatched.

 

Mike Mattson, at the Country Cat Open House

There was a cool vintage component to the Country Cat Open house, with a display and show that included some wonderful machines like this 1976 Arctic Cat 440 Z proudly shown by collector Mike Mattson.

Mike is a guy who I've had email contact with for years, but whom I'd never met in person until yesterday. He's a great guy with a huge passion for the sport.

 

The vintage sled group at Country Cat

The whole group who displayed gathered with VSCA president Mike Meagher for a photo. Best as I can tell, everyone earned a prize, with Nancy Ische taking top honors.

I know everyone appreciated all the sleds on display!

 

Country Cat Open House

Meanwhile, back in the main show floor, the buzz of commerce mixing with the snowmobile movies showing on the screens produced a great soundtrack to the day.

As if the temperature and changing leaves on the trees outside weren't apparent enough, the scene inside Country Cat was a powerful reminder of autumn and the beginning of another snowmobile season.

 

Country Cat Open House

If your Arctic Cat dealer is having an open house, I hope you have the time to stop by to experience the awesome vibe of machines, people and anticipation.

Thanks for reading.



Comments (11):

Mike F says:
10/6/2013 5:21:00 PM

Fun stuff! Crazy how far John will drive for a free sandwich and a soda! Looks like a great time, really good folks to deal with. Tough to beat Country Cat!
Mike M says:
10/6/2013 6:45:00 PM

John:
Great to finally meet you in person. That was really a nice day and the Country Cat staff really treated us first class.
Cindy Kuster says:
10/6/2013 10:10:00 PM

It was our first time to Country Cat - what a top knotch dealership. It was a great day and highly recommend anyone check this place out and attend a future open house. THANKS for a great day.
Gregg says:
10/7/2013 7:11:00 AM

Great bunch there at C. C. I live in central ILL and ive traveled there to pick up sleds a coupla times, Also traveled to there open house. ITS WORTH THE TRIP.
Brandon M says:
10/7/2013 8:49:00 AM

I am fortunate to have CC in my back yard (Okay, about 25 miles away). Awesome dealership! I appreciate the fact that they are so focused on A/C. John, I am one of the dreamers who just needs that push. The '14 M Sno Pro's are gorgeous (I dig the green model myself). My goal is to save enough scratch to pull the trigger next fall.
Taylor H says:
10/7/2013 9:15:00 AM

73 years of snowmobiling!!! 1-You look very young for your age...2-It must have been a very early prototype you had the privilege of riding for many years before snowmobiles were sold to the public!! 3-that machine had to be so crude that you deserve kudos for sticking with it!!
Monty Normand says:
10/7/2013 11:32:00 AM

Country Cat and the Wanderscheid family host a great event.
John Sandberg says:
10/7/2013 5:56:00 PM

Mike F: Let's be clear now... I will drive a LONG way for a free PORK sandwich and a pop.

Brandon: Good luck with your decision and your savings!

Taylor: I use a high-quality wrinkle cream and drink cherry juice by the gallon.
Shawn Randall says:
10/7/2013 7:40:00 PM

What I wouldnt do to have a dealer like that, I pretty much order all my stuff on line from them. Great service. I would love to visit someday.
Josh N says:
10/8/2013 12:33:00 AM

Second time going in and talking with various people there, super helpful and so honest they even double checked their online advertised price compared to the price tag that was on the sled which turned out to be a couple hundred cheaper. Great group there, there's a reason my buddies and I drove so far, even ended up taking that Hibert sled I was sitting on in the picture home that day.
John Sandberg says:
10/8/2013 7:32:00 AM

Congrats on the Hibbert Replica, Josh! That's awesome.

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