Haydays is over, the unofficial start to winter is here! Bring on the snowmobile shows, local grass drags, swap meets, pig roasts, putting up trail signs and routine maintenance!
It was our first time at Hay Days and it was epic. I went in not knowing what to expect and my expectations were blown out of the powder. Eh? Eh? See what I did there?
Without further adieu – here’s my unofficial Hay Days for Newbies Guide.
Alan and I loaded up my Equinox (codename Snowflake) and left Friday morning for a 6 hour drive north to North Branch, MN! We packed pretty light, just in case.
As you can see, we were pretty stoked for “HAYYYYYYYY DAYS”
The drive was pretty quick and painless, gotta love driving on Friday mornings… none of the crazy weekend-trippers are out of work yet. Next thing you know, we’re seeing signs for Hay Days Parking. But not so fast! Both sides of the road in and out of North Branch were lined with orphan cars, snowmobiles, motorcycles, you name it… all for sale. These people really know their target market huh? Good thing I was ballin’ on a budget and couldn’t afford a major purchase otherwise I might have needed to put a hitch on Snowflake and bring one of the orphans home. Out of the goodness of my heart of course!
We arrived at Racers Edge North Campground which is essentially a huge open field that Michelle Waletzko opens for the weekend as a basecamp for eager snowmobilers! There’s no showers and the field is outfitted with two portapotties – which were extremely clean the entire weekend much to my surprise.
Here’s Snowflake at our campsite.
And here’s the view from our campsite – see, I wasn’t kidding about the open field thing!
From the moment I called Michelle to make a reservation, she was awesome! When we got there they greeted us with a friendly face and an Arctic Cat utility vehicle to guide us to our camping spot. My kind of people!
We tent camped, because we’re badasses, but mostly because we don’t have a sweet camper like everyone else at Hay Days. We pitched our tent and made sure the air mattress was oriented the right way as to not roll on top of one another in the middle of the night. It’s the small things, I’m tellin’ you!
We discovered that North Branch didn’t have much in the way of stores/groceries so we used the Google machine to find a Walmart 20 minutes away. After running back across the border to St Croix Falls, WI to get some provisions at said Walmart we stopped at CJ’s Bar and Grill for a quick beverage before heading back to North Branch. CJ’s was a pretty homey, the wait staff was attentive and friendly and the drinks were pretty strong – well worth the stop. We didn’t eat there, because we had just ate in St Croix Falls, but the food looked awesome.
My cousin Al and his friend Nolan texted us to let us know they were at the campsite so we headed back to a glowing green dome called home and passed out. After all… the festivities started at 7am so we needed a good night of sleep.
The next morning it was like the first day of snowmobiling after a sick snowstorm… I was up early and ready to go. We were in the gates by 8am and started with the Swaps. Little did I know what I was in for. Over 50 rows of Swap vendors with all kinds of crazy stuff spread out as far as the eye could see.
Most of it was parts, old snowmobiles, mini bikes, motorcycles and sweet retro clothing fit for memory lane; but there were occasional gems like a brand new-ish cover for Alan’s sled, bins of hyfax at cheap prices, sweet Johnson Snowmobile keychains for Alan and his dad, orange handlebar grips for my sled and some awesome craft ideas with old parts.
I also saw this sweet sled that would be perfect for my dad because it’s orange and it’s a Polaris… I guess the love for orange runs in my blood, not so much on the Polaris thing. I would have bought it for him if I had $3,700 to spare, but again ballin’ on a budget.
We walked and talked and laughed, my three boys and I. We ate delicious breakfast pizza from one of the pizza vendors, walked around the Swap some more, walked back to the tent to unload our purchases and make turkey sandwiches or lunch, walked back to the grounds and finished what I thought was the last rows of the Swap. Silly me. Just as I thought it was our last rows, BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Side note, I totally want this Jeep from Tintmasters Off-Road Motorsports. Please Santa?
Our walking continued! We made a pit stop at the Divas SnowGear vendor tent so I could meet the head Divas Ambassador and Pro Rider Stephanie Schwartz. Stephanie was the lady that made my Friday two weeks ago by sending my congrats email, I am forever grateful and in love with her – kidding but not kidding… she’s pretty sweet! I also got to meet the Divas SnowGear founder Wendy Gavinski (who is such an inspiration) and her husband Travis, one of the full-time ambassadors and previous Wisconsin Miss Snowflake Alexus Butler, and another one of the 15-16′ Ambassadors Anne. It was really great meeting/chatting with everyone, trying on some of the gear (more on that later) and I got this sweet little can coozie and lanyard just for stopping by.
As we were walking out of the DSG booth I spotted Tucker Hibbert at the Arctic Cat tent and hopped in line for an autograph – STOKED! Why I didn’t get a picture, I have no clue… probably because of my fear of being that annoying fangirl. NEXT YEAR FOR SURE!
By the time we finished the 50-something rows of swaps and a couple stops through the vendor area I had 35,555 steps and 15.31 miles on my FitBit. My feet were aching, my hips and legs were screaming at me to sit the heck down; and sit the heck down we did… at Denny’s in North Branch for dinner. Super Bird and strawberry shake for the win. I guess I needed to replenish the calories I burnt with all my Swap walking. The staff was super nice and we were able to go to bed full and happy. Day 1 in the books and I’d say it was a success!
This was my view waking up Sunday morning… how great is this?
It was followed by this, which is a pretty awesome view too! I love surrounding myself with other people that support me and my addiction to two-stroke and snow. I wouldn’t have changed the group of people I spent my time with for anything in the world but I’m excited to add more people to my entourage of snow lovers through being a Divas SnowGear Ambassador and hopefully being more involved in my snowmobiling club – The White Thunder Riders.
Day two, according to Al, was Vendor Day. We did the same sort of snake pattern as we did through the Swap but in a much smaller scale. It took a lot less time and was a lot less walking – 14,676 steps and 6.32 miles for the whole day. Didn’t walk away with many purchases aside from a case of APV oil for the Arctic Kitties. I carried it on my head for most of the rest of the day after buying it; I felt like one of those ladies with the bucket of water… only I was carrying nectar of the snowmobiling gods. It was damn heavy, but totally worth the price per gallon. I had a few other things on my shopping list – purple ski loops and purple hyfax to name a couple – but was unsuccessful at finding anything. There’s always Snow Show in October!
At some point Alan and I broke off with Al and Nolan because they were off adventuring with friends that were Swappers and doing shopping of their own. But the adventures of Alan and Meredith continued!
We got to test drive the new Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail and Sport models in the test drive arena… that was pretty sick and made us want to spend money on summer toys! Alas, we shall resist the temptation – for now.
We also watched some TerraCross races, which were friggin sweet! We watched the ladies race and the last-chance qualifier 1 and 2. Man would I love to get more involved in something like that during my Not-Winter… and after my turn test driving the Wildcats, I’m sure Alan would agree that I’d have a pretty good time. I’d have to have him as my co-driver of course 😉
We took a selfie. We should have been frowning, but I’d like to thing we were smiling at the thought of coming back next year for more mischief, mayhem, walking, swapping, shopping and all things winter!
I don’t think I would change a thing about the whole experience except maybe flipping the days or mixing the Swaps between both days rather than just one. That’s my Hay Days for Newbies Guide version 1.0… we will definitely be back next year! There are rumors – since it’s the 50th Anniversary of Hay Days – that the event might be three days and that would be pretty neat!
Until then… stay happy, stay braaapy!