EAGLE RIVER - A lot has changed since the first World Championship Snowmobile Derby kicked off in 1964. One thing that's always been constant is plenty of fan support.
To say this race is important to the Northwoods...could be the understatement of the century or half century, as it's celebrating its 50th anniversary. And another understatement--it was cold. But that didn't stop fans from bringing the energy.
"It's just adrenaline rushing, it's just exciting to see them go around that track at over 90-miles an hour. See them go over that table top." Proclaimed derby enthusiast, Nicole Musial.
"My favorite part is the snow cross but I love the ice oval too." Said Rhinelander's Max Beck.
This race is action-packed. That's a reason it's been around for half a century. So in all that time, there's got to be plenty of memories to go around.
"Probably my first in 1978. I wanted to come a few years before that. But once I turned eighteen-- that's when I started coming." Said Bill Dickmann--who made Sunday his 26th straight derby.
Jeff Fechter and Anita Nygren story is unique. Their love for the derby brought them together.
"(Anita) Yep, we met here. "(Jeff) We just met at a bar. (Anita) I didn't even know his name for a few years. He got ahold of me, found out I was single and we've been going ever since."
Jennifer Kennedy isn't just a fanó-her favorite memory was a royal honor.
"I was derby queen in 2009. That was a pretty neat experience."
Nicole Musial was mentioned before. It's obvious that she digs derby tradition.
"I love the sound and the smell of the snowmobiles. That's my all-time favorite sound and smell. Snowmobile exhaust. Best moment ever!"
With all the derby pride here in Eagle River, most had no problem explaining why it'll be around for years to come.
"In any kind of racing sport that sticks around for that many years, there's a lot of tradition behind it. You look at businesses--how many (businesses) stick around for 50-years?" Said Vintage Snowmobile racer ,Chris Krzewnia.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.
"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.
Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau. ¬†He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine. ¬†People often stop to take his picture.
"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.
RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers.
The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.
"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland.
This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.
SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.
"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat.
Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods.
"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business.
"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.
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