Lack of racing chills Sunday event

Leader photos by Kent Tempus, Chip Manthey

Jeff Johnson of Buchanan, Mich., watches a speeding snowmobile racer go by during hot laps at the Shawano County Fairgrounds Sunday morning. The races were cancelled because of poor track conditions, but several dozen racers took time to make practice runs before heading home. Johnson is the pit director for the Midwest International Racing Association, the sanctioning organization for the snowmobile racers at this weekend's Menominee Ice Challenge. See story on Page B1. An ice carving championship will be held next weekend at the casino.

By Kent Tempus

Leader editor

Sunday's activities for Northern Exposure were canceled, after snowmobiling racing officials decided to call off that days schedule of races for safety reasons.

"A big part of the day was built around the racers and spectators," said Val Wylie, executive director of the Shawano Area Chamber of Commerce.

The races at the Shawano County Fairgrounds were canceled because of poor track conditions. (See story on Page B1.)

The Shawano Area Chamber of Commerce also had to deal with Mother Nature Sunday morning, when officials discovered high winds had collapsed several vendor tents, as well as the main warming tent near the grandstand.

The warming tent was set back up, but the decision was made a short time later to wrap the event up a day early.

Wylie aid there were fewer vendors coming on to fairgrounds to serve race team members and visitors, it just didn't make sense to continue with the few other events that were scheduled.

Still, Wylie said she was pleased about the cooperation between the chamber, the Agricultural Society and the Menominee Casino to in handling they myriad of details that go into the event, as well as festival activities Friday and Saturday.

"We had some new events that went very well," such as the sled dog rides and the cherries jubilee served Friday night and Saturday, she said.

Except for canceling Sunday's activities, Northern Exposure chairman Rod Christensen was pleased with the festival overall.

"It was more successful than last year," Christensen said. "Attendance was up, and we are very optimistic for next year."

Still, crowds were light on Saturday, with the bulk of visitors coming from out-of-town, mainly Green Bay and the Fox Valley.

Christensen said he's looking for more Shawano area family's to attend next year.

"We're looking for feedback on what people would like to see," Christensen said, adding people can call him or Al Stachura of the Menominee Casino-Bingo-Hotel.

"Over the next several weeks, Al and I will be getting together to begin setting up events for next year,"

One new features being consider for 2001 includes "snowmobile-cross" races similar to motocross races during the day. The Midwest Racing Association Races would be held at night, which would provide some time to repair the track to avoid canceling races.

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