I know it’s cool to brag about how long you’ve been going to certain popular events (FYI: I’ve been going to Hay Days since 1953).
I’m not very cool, but here are 34 things I learned at the 2012 edition of this remarkable event.
#1: Most importantly, the infuriating gridlock that characterized Saturday at LAST year’s event was completely eliminated. Completely! With multiple entrance points and quick-flow parking, everyone got into the official parking areas pronto. The only line I experienced was about 15 minutes waiting for wristbands on Saturday morning. Kudos, Sno Barons, for fixing that snafu from last year.
#2: Although I’ve been attending Hay Days for almost 60 years, I’m still crummy at estimating attendance. I’d say that Saturday had great attendance, but that Sunday was down a bit from last year.
#3: The Arctic Cat booth, however, was hopping all weekend long. Obviously having a race sled unveiling and all-new products has a huge impact on the situation.
#4: Oh, and something else I learned: Friday is the new Saturday at Hay Days. If you want the best opportunity for swapping success, you now gotta be there on Friday.
#5: Lots to see and buy as usual, and it’s still the place to get last year’s clothing at huge discounts at vendors like Country Cat.
#6: While there are lots of sled deals to be had at Hay Days, the days of three-year-old carryover sleds being blown out the door for $5,600 are over.
#7: The aftermarket looked strong and pleased about a new lineup of Arctic Cats. Racewerx had this custom F on display with a Blown Concepts wrap and stylie aluminum bumper.
#8: Horsepower is still king among those seeking aftermarket-love for their machines. The Speedwerx crew was out en force at Hay Days, showing their new Turbo and Supercharged goodies. Here’s (l-to-r) Jeremy Houle, Larry Houle and Steve Houle standing proud next to the 800 Supercharger kit.
#9: The FOX Shox booth is always interesting and hopping. There was a fury of activity rebuilding shocks, doing EVOL and Burandt upgrades and showing off their sweet stuff.
Above, Randy Karpik shows how dialed-in the packing situation is for their display shocks.
#10: Hay Days is still be the place to get a hood for your 1993 Ski-Doo Formula Plus and a skidframe for your 1995 Polaris XLT Special.
#11: I learned that you could buy a “classic” Benelli minibike for less than $100.
#12: I learned that you can get 35-year-old cans of Schell’s beer, still in six-pack configuration. I bought all of it because the seller wasn’t carding anyone, but I could only drink a few before getting gut-rot.
#13: I know Hay Days gets knocked for the swapping of items that have zero to do with snowmobiling. I enjoy all the motorsports stuff, and there’s a high humor quotent for some of the other…stuff.
#14: I learned that mice will always love the flavor of old seat foam, especially if it means destroying valuable Arctic Cat leopard covers.
#15: I learned that this group of die-hards ignored my plea to make Herters the official sled of Waconia 2012, and opted instead for Chapparal. Oh well, I’ll still be there, perhaps riding one of the toy Arctic Cats that John Zeglin (left) was selling.
#17: I learned that when you win the WOBLE trophy for cart-wheeling a Yamaha Enticer in a ditch in front of 50 people, that you will bring it to display in the OSM booth next to a $100 Arctic Cat Jag (that runs!). At least you’ll do this if your name is Jason MacDonald, righteously posing with the well-deserved WOBLE traveling trophy.
#19: Hay Days is always the place to see legendary racers and people. Here at the Team Arctic autograph session, Arctic Cat VP Roger Skime shakes hands with 4-time World Champ P.J. Wanderscheid, while Tucker Hibbert practices whistling.
#20: Moving back to Team Arctic is good for Gary Moyle and his fans, as evidenced by the comments I heard during the autograph session.
#21: I learned that when Arctic Cat gives away free cowboy hats at Hay Days, that everyone seems to wear one. And that doing so brings a smile to Team Arctic snocrosser Kyle Pallin’s face.
#22: I learned that Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety (r) was working hard on Team Arctic cross-country legend Doug Oster to quit wasting his time trying to race a vintage John Deere at the I-500, and instead get on an El Tigre Cross-Country to dethrone last year’s vintage champ.
#23: This year’s free “Waiting for Winter”-theme poster from Arctic Cat was a hit, as usual. Holding it up for me to get the shot is Nancy Fink. Thanks Nancy!
#24: I knew this prior to Hay Days, but was reminded again that you almost NEVER see P.J. Wanderscheid (l) and Scott Eilertson without a smile. Two great guys who are a big part of the Arctic Cat story!
#26: Hay Days still throws down a nice wow-factor, including a sweet air display at this year’s event.
#27: I learned that when your spouse acquires dozens of vintage Arctic Cats on a monthly basis throughout the year, that you can treat yourself to a vintage Schwinn Fair Lady if you find one at Hay Days, as evidenced by Ursula Scheele.
#28: There is some hard partying that’s simply part of the Hay Day experience for some people.
#29: If you want to talk with the Arctic Cat engineers who are responsible for creating the sleds we ride, Hay Days is the place to go. Here, Ryan Hayes (r) and Troy Halvorson (middle) talk about the new 2012 sleds at the Arctic Cat booth.
#30: The Arctic Cat booth is also where you’ll meet new friends, like I did with Team Arctic racer Megan Campbell (l) and her dad, Shawn.
#31: Only at Hay Days can a Polaris die-hard (r) entice Tucker Hibbert (l) into a game called Corn Hole.
#32: The drag races will always be a part of the Hay Days experience, but they don’t hold the crowds like they used to. The one exception is when the Outlaw sleds fire up.
#33: I also learned that despite being the number 1 qualifer and setting the fastest numbers of the weekend (3.952 seconds/139.87 mph in 500 feet), that a red-light will prevent you from winning the Outlaw class, as it did with Arctic Cat’s Glenn Hall (above). Look for a post on this 600-plus-hp Arctic Cat mod here at ai.com in the coming days.
#34: If you’ve ever been to the Arctic Cat booth at Hay Days, and wondered why people are constantly going in with an almost addictive urgency, it’s because of the all the sweet corn bread muffins that Kale bakes for everyone.