TRAVERSE CITY — Mountains of snow mean conditions are perfect for Benzie County’s Shiver by the River in Frankfort.
The snow also means a return of the sixth annual event’s most popular attraction after a two-year hiatus: SnoCross snowmobile racing.
“They have not been able to have that the last couple years because of lack of snow,” said Mary Carroll, president of the Benzie County Visitors Bureau. “We don’t have that issue this year.”
Local contractors and work crews started hauling piles of snow into downtown Frankfort this week to construct the roughly quarter-mile-long, mogul-dotted snowmobile track that will whip racers around Open Space Park and down a stretch of Main Street as they compete for snow-sport dominance.
Joanne Bartley, executive director of the Frankfort Elberta Chamber of Commerce, said about 90 snowmobilers registered for races by mid-week, and most of them bring family members and friends along for the trip.
“That’s a lot of people converging on this town during a time when normally no one would be around,” Bartley said. “That’s something that’s important for the businesses here, and it gives the locals something to do.”
The races are organized by Michigan Xtreme Racing series. Series co-owner Fred Grove said riders as young as four years old will travel to Frankfort from throughout Michigan to compete on Saturday and Sunday.
Grove said he’s been “hooked” on snowmobile racing for 25 years.
“You get that adrenaline rush,” he said.
But races also are family oriented events.
“When you go to the pits on the race weekends, everyone is hanging out together and cooking,” Grove said. “It’s a good family deal, and I think that’s why so many people do it.”
Spectators can pay $10 each day to watch the races.
They can also enjoy a host of other winter-themed fun and games on Saturday, including a parade, horse-drawn carriage rides and bowling on Main Street in front of Frankfort’s city hall.
”The joke with that is, during the wintertime, it’s so quiet in Frankfort you can bowl down Main Street,” Carroll said.