Winter_Fest_2021

Chetek Winter Fest is Saturday, Feb. 27, with a preparty on Friday, Feb. 26. The main event includes the annual Bikini Run, where racers compete to raise money for Barron County Pink Ribbon Advocacy and get the fastest speed on a snowmobile while wearing only swimwear. Pictured above, a racer at the 2020 Winter Fest Bikini Run readies herself for her run at top speed.

Winter Fest is Saturday, Feb. 27, with action on the ice of Lake Chetek from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A preparty will be held at Red’s on Friday, Feb. 26, and an awards banquet will be held at Pokegama Lakeside Cantina at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27.

National Straightline Snowmobile Racing is again running the pro race track and fun-run radar run track. Ron Bray, with NSSR, expects 75 teams to come to Chetek, with 100 entries across 50 classes hoping to break previously set record speeds.

“This year, everyone is anxious to get out,” Bray said. Chetek will be the only race this year, either due to bad ice conditions or not being able to hold races in Minnesota this winter due to pandemic restrictions in that state.

Team Enzor will be returning to beat the record they set last year in Chetek, hitting 194 mph. They have tuned up the sled to produce just over 1,000 horsepower and are hoping to break 200 mph. Bray said they will do a few test runs in the morning and likely make the record-breaking attempt around 2 p.m.

Opposite the pro side, there will be 42 classes for the fun run track, where people can “run what they bring,” Bray said, meaning snowmobiles, ATVs and even motorcycles, can run down the ice track.

Bray added that people should have the killswitch safety tethers installed on any machine being raced. Protective equipment is required and more rules can be found at NSSR’s website at www.racenssr.com.

Winter Fest organizer Rob Licht said plowing will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 24, for the ice tracks and parking areas. There iwll be handicap parking along the fun-run track. “Everything is looking great,” Licht said.

Crews plow snow off Lake Chetek in preparation for Winter Fest 2021. The event is Saturday, Feb. 27.

The preparty at Red’s on Feb. 26, will be held from 6–9 p.m. There will be live music, raffle ticket sales, a meat raffle and door prizes.

There will be a pancake breakfast at Gilligans on Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., with proceeds supporting the Chetek Youth Center.

NSSR race registration starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with races starting at 10 a.m. Vehicles can drive onto the ice from the Hydroflites landing or from City Beach. Snowmobiles, ATVs and pedestrians can walk in from any gate, as well as the gate at Red’s.

The gate fee is $5 per person, with kids 5–12 years old $1, and kids four and younger entering for free.

Concessions will be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No carry-ins will be allowed. There will not be a warming tent this year, but forecasts predict a calm, partly sunny day with temperatures near 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kids games, hosted by Midwest Dental of Chetek, will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dr. Bill Shea said there will be ice bowling, mini golf, curling, snowman and beat the molar games (where a hockey puck is shot between the tooth’s roots), along with a medallion search. There will be small prizes for winners and everyone will win something.

There will also be sleds for the sledding hill and the makings for s’mores.

The Bikini Run registration starts at 11 a.m. As of Tuesday, Feb. 23, 14 racers had signed up for the Bikini Run fundraiser for Barron County Pink Ribbon Advocacy, Licht said. The Bikini Run starts at 1 p.m. Participants who raise the most funds will be named king and queen of Winter Fest. Participants also race snowmobiles, clad in swimwear, and compete for the top speed on a snow track.

Registration for the Bikini Run can be found at www.chetekwinterfest.org.

Pro Kids Ice Racing, for ages 4–14, will also have races on Saturday. Registration closed on Feb. 17.

After all the races finish, an awards ceremony will be held at Pokegama Lakeside Cantina, starting at 6 p.m. The banquet meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, salad and a dinner roll is $10.

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