The Best Yet? MN4WDA Spring Convention Photos By Michelle Baringer, Borderline 4x4 Club The MN4WDA held its annual Spring Convention on April 24-26 at Frontenac Farms in Frontenac. This location, with its excellent wheeling opportunities, campground and nice meeting facilities, holds off-road events throughout the summer. While some wheelers spent the whole weekend in Frontenac, most of the fun happened on Saturday with a day jam-packed with activities: wheeling with various levels of difficulty, hanging out with friends, a banquet dinner, bonfires, guest speakers and ample door prizes for all attendees. After dark, photographer Michelle Baringer projected her images from the day onto Andy Gladen’s trailer. MN4WDA Vice President Geoff O’Brien was nervous the day before the big event: the rain on Friday could’ve turned trails to un-negotiable soup. However, sun on Saturday dried out the trails and temperatures were pleasant. This event serves as a fundraiser for MN4WDA, as well as a fun weekend. There were 25 attendees who became MN4WDA members, too. In all, there were about 135 rigs at the event, with about 200 people spending the whole weekend at Frontenac. Wheelers came from around the state, including East Grand Forks, Rochester, St. Charles, Duluth, Bemidji and Mankato. Some even came from Wisconsin and Iowa. There were many hands on deck to make sure the event was well-promoted, well-organized and well-attended. A special thanks goes to Jeff Wendt for coordinating the event; Morgan Wendt and Katie Nelton for working registration for a record number of participants; and to the Roper family for hosting this at their farm. “Next year we’re hoping to do some training classes and have activities for kids at Spring Convention,” O’Brien said. Don’t be fooled by the idyllic surroundings: there are trails and obstacles for a wide variety of skill levels at Frontenac Farms, particularly in the easy-moderate and difficult classes. “It includes some of the most challenging rock crawling in the state; maybe even in the country,” O’Brien said. “There are trails there that can break almost anything.” This is a private facility that welcomes wheelers several times throughout the year. It’s not just grown-ups having fun: this is a family activity and a family event. In addition to the 300 adults who came to the Spring Convention, there were also about 40 children. When not buckled in, kids were often playing with their own remotecontrol rigs, often with other adults. Big Johnson is a black-diamond level trail, even for rock buggies like these. “This is a trail where you’ll likely incur body damage, or need a winch,” O’Brien said. He estimates that about 40 percent of the vehicles at Spring Convention could negotiate this trail. Offroad vehicles aren’t just big mods: these street-legal Jeeps got their workout at Spring Convention. While most rigs arrive on trailers, there’s a good number that drive to the event, unpack, get rugged, and then drive home. Wheeling is a part of the weekend’s fun, but hanging out with like-minded people makes it even better. This is a welcoming, friendly group. It’s not uncommon to show up and not know anyone, wheel with them for the day, and then meet up with them in a following weekend, O’Brien said. “I like to do a lot of fire hopping,” he said. “I visit various campfires, find out where people are from, how they got into the sport and where they like to wheel.” 16 MINNESOTA OFFROAD The banquet room is in a cool converted barn. Special guests and speakers included Ron Potter, MN4WDA’s representative on the Coalition of Recreational Trail Users; Mary Straka from the DNR; Dan Larson, the MN4WDA lobbyist; and association President Rick Langness. OR