By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When the snow flies, the Delano Snowstormers snowmobile club will be flying right behind.
“Oh yeah, we like the snow,” club president Duane Matter said. “From what I’ve heard of the forecast, it looks like it could be another good year.”
The snowmobile club is preparing for a winter wonderland through its annual silent auction fundraiser, Saturday, Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Delano American Legion.
At least 200 items are typically featured at the auction, including gift certificates, sporting goods, tickets, snowmobile accessories and clothing, resort stays, and much more.
“We’re open to any donations,” Matter said. “We’re appreciative of anything we can get.”
Proceeds will be used to meet expenses of the club’s Polaris Ranger, trail tools, new informational trail signage, upkeep of grooming equipment, and support of the youth safety training class in January.
One of the new trail signs will be dedicated to the memory of Karla Herzog, the late wife of club treasurer Jim Herzog.
In the past two years, the trail system that the Delano Snowstormers maintain has grown to about 45 miles. Access trails have been added into Delano, to B’s On The River, and to Woodland Hill Winery.
A connecting trail was also added to Three Rivers Park, which the club hopes will motivate park officials to reopen the park trail for snowmobilers.
More trails to maintain means more work for the Delano Snowstormers, but they are glad to do it.
“It helps the businesses in town,” Matter said. “We’re a community-minded club.”
Members are not expected to help with trail maintenance, but many find the task enjoyable and rewarding.
“It’s maintained by volunteers,” Matter said.
The group does its best to keep trails in excellent condition, but weather can sometimes pose challenges.
“You need to have the right conditions to groom,” Matter said. “If it’s too warm, the snow bunches up, and grooming does more harm than good.”
The Delano Snowstormers has 35 members, and meets the second Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Delano American Legion.
“Our meetings are open to anybody, and new members are welcome,” Matter said.
Local club dues are $15 per year. Members are also encouraged to join the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA), which has an annual fee of $20.
According to Matter, being in a snowmobile club is a good way to promote the sport, as well as make friends with other riders.
“We did quite a few club rides last year,” he said.
Some trips are overnight stays, while others are day trips.
“There’s some beautiful country out there. It’s a good reason to look forward to the winter,” Matter said, adding that he enjoys touring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Vermillion, and other scenic areas in northern Minnesota.
With last year’s snowfall, Matter found plenty of close-to-home riding opportunities, as well.
“You didn’t need to go anywhere,” he said. “There are a lot of great places within a 40-mile radius of Delano.”
The Delano Snowstormers also offer a snowmobile safety course each year in January.
“You have to be 12 to get a safety certificate, but you can take the class when you’re 11,” Matter said. “The certificate is a requirement if you’re going to be riding on state trails.”
To donate to the silent auction, contact the Delano Snowstormers at (952) 955-2894.
Donations must be received by Monday, Nov. 28.
For businesses that donate, a link to their website will be included on the Delano Snowstormers website for one year at no charge.
To learn more about the Delano Snowstormers, go to http://www.delanosnowstormers.com/