Snowmobile club to celebrate 50th year at annual event


ROSE CITY — The weather isn’t looking very promising, but the annual snowmobile show will go on rain or shine, Ogemaw Hills Snowmobile Club event organizer Jim Kelts said.

The club will host its annual show, ride and open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 27. The event will be held at its clubhouse located at the Frank Alley Memorial Park near the corner of Rose City Road and Fairview Road, regardless of the weather.

Kelts said the group would rather have snow than rain, but he added it isn’t the first year warm weather happened before the event.

“Mother Nature hasn’t been doing well by us this year, or last, for that matter,” he said.

The past several days of weather at or above the freezing point have melted off almost all of the snow base that the trails had — similar to what happened last year, Kelts said.

“We were expecting more (in attendance) than we had the year before, but last year it was kind of misty and foggy and warm, and we had some people that backed out of showing sleds,” he said.

This year, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the club is hosting a rededication of the Frank Alley Memorial Park.

Alley, known locally as Mr. Ski-Doo, was the owner of a snowmobile dealership in West Branch in the 1960s and was also a stout supporter of the sport.

“The park is named after Frank Alley and there was a stone put in place at one end of the park and a plaque set in the stone,” Kelts said. “The rock and plaque have become hidden so we moved it over to where the snowmobiles leave the park.”

During the rededication there will be a few people speaking about the rededication and how Alley Park became what it is today, he said.

True to the Alley name, the family donated a sled to the club for a raffle fundraiser. The snowmobile was originally sold in the 1960s and later re-acquired by the dealership.

Kelts said the snowmobile has been refreshed, but not completely restored, to preserve its local roots.

“They donated it and requested we use it for a raffle to generate money for the snowmobile club,” Kelts said.

The machine is a 1964 Ski-Doo Olympic that Kelts estimated is worth approximately $2,500.

“The value is what someone is willing to pay for it,” he said. “It’s worth more than that to a lot of people.”

The drawing for the sled will be held around 12:30 p.m., around the same time as the rededication ceremony. Tickets for the sled are currently available on the club’s website at for $5 each or three for $10.

In addition to the special ceremonies this year, the club will also host its annual snowmobile show that typically has vintage to modern sleds on display as well as some specialized racing sleds.

Attendees can also look forward to complimentary hot dogs, snacks, coffee and hot chocolate.

Each year the club applies for a grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for its share of maintenance of the extensive Michigan trail systems. Kelts said the funds awarded are approximately $10 million, which is supported by the purchase of snowmobile permits and some fuel taxes.

Kelts said there are approximately 68 trail sponsor organizations, each of which are reimbursed on a per-mile cost to maintain their trail systems.

Locally, the Ogemaw Hills Snowmobile Club, its members and volunteers maintain more than 105 miles of trails.

“In the fall the club will use about 500 man hours,” Kelts said. “Every time we go out and groom, when we have snow, it’s about four times a week with two different tractors. It will take about 12 hours each direction.”

We are always looking for volunteers and someone that is willing to put forth the man hours in the fall and the trail maintenance in the winter,” Kelts said. “It’s very involved.”

In addition to its maintenance of the trails, the organization supports other local clubs and individuals such as Rachel’s Closet at Ogemaw Heights High School and Special Olympics athletes, and awards a scholarship through the Educational Support Partnership at OHHS.

For information about the event or the club, contact Kelts at 989-473-3062.


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