It looked a lot like Catfest at the Pennington County Fair in Thief River Falls, last week. There were Team Arctic racers, vintage sleds, new sleds and wheelers. And people. Lot’s of people!
What’s Catfest? It was a once-every-five-years celebration of everything Arctic Cat that occurred in TRF beginning in the late 1980s and through the 1990s.
By pairing with the Pennington County Fair (itself one of the most vibrant county fairs in Minnesota). the five day event had lots of added attraction.
Walking into the fairgrounds, the Arctic Cat compound (with display trailer, Christian Brothers Racing trailer, machines) was first thing to greet people. Pretty cool.
A handful of top Team Arctic racers were there to sign free posters on Thursday afternoon. Here Logan Christian (left) and Tucker Hibbert shoot me a smile, while Zach Herfindahl, Trent Wittwer and Dan Benham Jr. sign autographs.
A new building housed what was called Arctic Cat Village. Inside was an astonishing display of machines and memorabilia from the Ische family (seated L-to-R): Nancy, Brianna and Tom.
When there’s an Arctic Cat event involving vintage machines, you can count on a couple of guys attending no matter what: Gene Sauve (left) and Les Pinz, who were shaking hands while making a Kale (middle) sandwhich.
Lot’s of hand shaking, smiles and catching up during here, which is what CatFest, Hometown Tour, the 50th Anniversary and other such events offer.
Lots of people enjoying the incredible display of Arctic Cat stuff.
So many great machines, images, posters, signs, gear and stuff to inspire, remember and ponder for young and old alike.
Would the TRUE Boss Cat please stand up! Zach Herfindahl, Tucker Hibbert, Logan Christian, Dan Benham Jr. and Trent Wittwer.
Dwight Christian and Roger Skime share a laugh. There were lots and lots of Arctic Cat people there throughout the event, everyone sharing stories of their summer happenings, projects they’re working on, plans for the upcoming season and more.
Judging by the number of kids I saw climbing on snowmobiles, ATVs and side-by-sides, there are a lot of families anticipating the fun of their favorite riding seasons too.
After hanging out in the Arctic Cat area for a couple hours, it was time for this group of goons to hit up the fair offerings.
Translated: everyone was hungry and jonesing for some fried food.
The Night Crew of Tucker and Logan stopped at the airbrushed t-shirt display and bought some sweet threads.
Dwight uses his arms to illustrate the size of the stack of cash he used to pay for all the grub we consumed. Cheese curds, fried fish, french fries, hamburgers and malts…all the healthy stuff.
The vibe I appreciate most about this and others like it is that it wasn’t rushed. No gotta-see-everything-frenzy like I feel at Hay Days…no gotta-get-back-to-the-track-because-the-pro’s-are-about-to-race like the snocross events. Just chill, low-key and easy.
I talked to Arctic Cat fans who came from Iowa, Wisconsin, both Dakotas and throughout Minnesota. I heard stories of the parade that occurred the day before I was there, and about sweet tours of the Arctic Cat plant. The event was a huge success, and I hope it’s just the start of bigger things in the future.
Snowmobiling and ATVing are as much about the machines as they are the people. And Arctic Cat people are my favorite folks in the world.
I hope to see you at Arctic Cat/Pennington County Fair next year.
Thanks for reading.
(More eye candy below.)