Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating winter, Minnesota style with vintage snowmobiles December 10, 2019

Snowmobiles parked along Central Avenue during the Faribo Sno-Go Club Vintage Snowmobile Show.


DECADES AGO, MY COUSIN Kevin roared across the field on his snowmobile with me seated behind, the cold rush of wind stinging my cheeks. About the same time period, my oldest brother also offered me a snowmobile ride, then abandoned me in the gravel pit on our farm. Not the nicest thing to do. But brothers, when they are teens, aren’t always kind to sisters.


Mrs. Minnesota United States Courtney Maxwell-Shey of St. Peter (and originally from Faribault, she said) poses next to a trail groomer.


Those are my limited snowmobile memories. I’ve never felt the urge since to ask for a snowmobile ride, not that I know anyone with a snow-traversing machine. But plenty of Minnesotans still snowmobile, often in groups, traveling along groomed trails and road ditches and across frozen lakes.


Chatting and checking out the snowmobiles.


I expect there’s a certain exhilaration in defying winter weather by embracing it. There’s a certain exhilaration, too, in racing across the snow, the power of a machine roaring beneath you. With the high-tech clothing on the market today, the experience is certainly much warmer than 40-plus years ago.


Warming up around the fire in low 30-degree temps and a brisk wind, next to the food and beverage tent.


This past Saturday, the Faribo Sno-Go Club, established in 1967, hosted a Vintage Snowmobile Show as part of Faribault’s Winterfest. Randy and I arrived well into the event to find only a minimal number of machines displayed, a bit of a disappointment. Still, we appreciated the effort. And I appreciated the trip back down memory lane.


Christmas ornaments add a dash of holiday flair to a snowmobile trail groomer.


TELL ME: Have you ever ridden on a snowmobile? If yes, I’d like to hear your memorable story.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


11 Responses to “Celebrating winter, Minnesota style with vintage snowmobiles”

  1. Oh the memories of snowmobiling. I had my snowmobile license at 13 and then received my very own snowmobile. The family would go out in groups and sometimes winter camp (was not a fan of tent camping in winter). BroCraves has done the toss and take off on me too – silly brothers. I still remember DadCraves telling us to flip up our ski masks so we did not look like we were robbing a place if we stopped in on our snowmobiles – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  2. Donna Lyon Says:

    I have never been on a snowmobile. We don’t have much snow where I live in the Pacific NW, and we don’t go to the mountain ski/sledding area since my husband quit driving about five years ago. I miss the Minnesota winters/snow.

  3. Vintage! Heck, I used to have a snowmobile that looked a lot like those!! 🙂 I used to snowmobile when I lived in NE Oregon. I loved it and miss it!! So much fun!! 🙂

  4. Edward Brian Says:

    Our family never had snowmobiles, but we had horses and rode them in wintertime. The only time I rode a snowmobile was when I was a teenager. A neighbor asked my friend and I to ride his two sleds home from the shop in Devils Lake. We lived on on the other side of one of the very large lakes and foolishly thought we could cross the lake. It was smooth ice with no snow, well we got stuck a ways out on the ice and had to push our sleds to snow. Hard cold lesson learned.

  5. valeriebollinger Says:

    I had a couple experiences with snowmobiles when I was in high school…but I never wanted to pursue the activity. Too loud! 😉

  6. Missy’s Håndarbeid (Missy’s Crafty Mess) Says:

    Yes. It was cold!

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