Discover Wisconsin, Boondock Nation and Clutch Energy Drinks presented the 16th annual St. Germain Radar Run last Friday and Saturday, a volunteer-run event that provides tens of thousands of dollars to snowmobile trail grooming, the Pink Ribbon Riders and several community-based organizations.

The annual event drew record crowds while the 32 contestants in the Bikini Run event raised more than $85,000 — $32,200 more than last year — to be split by the Pink Ribbon Riders, St. Germain Fire Department and Plum Lake Ambulance.

Topping the Bikini Run field was Meghan Gaynor, who raised $27,637 in donations and also turned in the top speed at 107.7 mph.

While every sponsor and contestant made it happen, no major event such as this could happen without the diehard volunteers. Organizers were challenged by the loss of McNaughton Correctional Center help during last week’s polar vortex, yet an impressive 75 people from local civic groups turned out to ensure the St. Germain Radar Racers could pull off a safe, smooth-running event. Groups such as the St. Germain Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club provide manpower for the event.

What these volunteers do, besides giving of their time and talents for many worthwhile causes, is show off the character of small rural communities such as St. Germain and Plum Lake. They exemplify the heart of the community, the pulse of everything that is good and true about small-town America.

Event coordinators don’t know exactly how many thousands of people attended with the warmer weather this year, but they do know that parking fees topped last year’s record. Daytime highs were in the low 30s compared to single digits the previous year.

The new record for the number of radar runs racers hit 225 people, up from 195. And the top speed of 169.8 mph, captured by Mike Martin of Galesburg, Ill., was just 3.3 mph shy of the record he set four years ago.

St. Germain, one of the busiest snowmobile destinations on the planet and a community still blessed with traditional resorts that can accommodate thousands of people, should be very proud of where this annual event has gone.

Sled dog race festival is draw for Land O’ Lakes

Another big event for the North Woods tourism industry that drew participants from across the Midwest and Alaska last weekend was the Three Bear Sled Dog Races in Land O’ Lakes.

Once again, dozens of volunteers prepared the course for the adult and junior sled dog races, along with skijoring and fat tire bike races. The volunteers included students from the Conserve School and Northland Pines SOAR Middle School.

This event has grown to include special races for kids, a horse-drawn wagon shuttle, a craft show, live music Saturday night during the Musher’s Ball and fundraisers for several organizations. We tip our caps to the entire community.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger and Editor Gary Ridderbusch.