HOPE — Snow or no snow, visitors to Hope this Saturday morning can expect to see a host of classic sleds lining the streets for the 10th annual David Rysavy Memorial Vintage Snowmobile Run.
While the event has been happening for closer to 15 years, it was after David’s death in 2010 that siblings Ty Rysavy and Shannon Rhoades turned the ride into a way to remember their father — a longtime racer and snowmobiling enthusiast.
“My dad helped start it,” said Ty. “He used to race back in the ‘70s in Winnipeg and across the country.”
One of the most famous races the elder Rysavy participated in was the I-500, which then ran from Winnipeg to St. Paul. Over the years, Ty said he and his dad both collected a number of vintage snowmobiles, and Ty himself raced for over a decade, with his dad there to watch every contest.
When it came time to decide whether or not to keep the run going following David’s death, Shannon said the choice was clear.
“It would have been something that Dad would have wanted, not just because of his love of snowmobiles, but because of getting together and hanging out with friends and family,” she explained.
Now, the run has grown from roughly a dozen riders to sometimes close to 300 when there’s good snow, according to Ty. The ride takes place regardless of weather — if the trails are dry, Ty said people will put their sleds on trailers and parade them along the route. He added that there’s no age requirement — new snowmobiles are welcome as are ones that are so old they need to be pulled along on a truck.
“We don’t care if they run, we just like to see the vintage sleds,” added Shannon, explaining that the range of machines creates a kind of visual timeline.
Riders begin in Hope, then venture out to Geneva and Ellendale before returning, stopping in each town to eat and visit along the route. For Shannon and Ty, getting to socialize with familiar faces and new riders is one of the highlights of the annual event — and another way to honor their father.
“It was a love of snowmobiling, a love of vintage snowmobiles — and to get together and do it with friends,” said Ty, of his dad’s initial reasons for starting the run.
He added that it’s mostly people from the region who attend each year, but that they’ve had riders from as far away as South Dakota in the past.
“It’s a great way to share the love of snowmobiles like my dad wanted, and to share memories and stories and get to see the old sleds again,” said Shannon. “I have my dad’s sled, which is a 1973 Rupp Nitro 340. My dad used to race that sled, and I also wear his racing jacket. It’s not always about the sleds. It’s about bringing out the clothing and seeing how things have changed.”
As always, the run is free and open to the public, although donations are accepted. These go toward raffle items and costs for next year’s event. When asked why there’s no fee, Ty laughed, “My dad said, ‘If I want to ride a snowmobile, I can go anywhere to ride for free.’”
The 10th annual memorial run will take place this Saturday, Jan. 18 — leaving from Finch’s Pub in Hope at 11:30 a.m. Registration will take place prior, from 10 to 11 a.m. The first stop will be Geneva Bar and Grill, followed by Ellendale Liquor, and then back to Spurgy’s Bar and Grill in Hope.
Door prizes can be claimed any time after 3:30 p.m. at Spurgy’s, and raffle drawings will take place at 5:30 p.m. Participants must be present to win.
“It’s a fun time. Kids are welcome, bring everybody!” said Ty.