For those of you who haven’t been to Hay Days before, you're missing out! This event marks the unofficial start of winter and the snowmobile season, and it gives snowmobile enthusiasts everywhere something to look forward to while waiting for the snow to fly. Hosted by the Sno Barons Snowmobile Club in North Branch, Minn., this year marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s largest snowmobile and powersports swap event (Sept. 10-11, 2016).
Hay Days is like a giant reunion or Christmas. Heck, it’s everything you could possibly want all wrapped up into two days of madness. The key to conquering Hay Days is to make it yours – you have the ability to customize your Hay Days experience so you get the most out of this event. So put your party hat on, gas up the truck, get together some parts to sell, and load up that old sled. It’s time to head to Minnesota; It’s Hay Days or bust, baby!
When I first attended Hay Days, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t really prepare. I went with an open mind, no expectations and a backpack full of what I thought were the basic necessities I needed to survive a weekend of grass drags. Little did I know that the event is so much more than grass drags. There's a massive swap meet, along with motocross freestyle, demo rides, BMX shows, Terracross, product launches, athlete appearances, parties, entertainment, free swag, camaraderie, and more! The event is often a blur, and at the end, you rely on the pictures to put together the pieces of the weekend so it can all make sense. For me, I have met some lifelong friends, organized some epic trips, and had the time of my life, all at Hay Days.
For the Hay Days newbies, I put together lists of what to expect and how to prepare for the coolest, craziest snowmobile event you will ever go to. There's something for everyone, whether you're a group of friends road tripping across the Midwest, a family with small kids, or a hardcore sledhead. Admission for adults is only $30 for the weekend, while kids 12 and under are free.
What to Expect
1) You are going to walk – a lot.
2) You are going to get dirty. The venue can be dusty if it's hot out, so it's best to wear closed-toe shoes.
3) It might get hot (like really hot). Wear layers and strip down throughout the day.
4) It might get really cold, especially at night. Again, wear layers.
5) Come early to get the best deals – a lot of things sell out quickly!
6) Levi LaVallee will be attempting a monstrous jump. Don't miss it!
10 Things to Bring
1) Cash for the swap meet (ATMs are available on-site if needed)
2) Water and snacks
4) Comfortable clothing and shoes
5) Rain jacket
7) Backpack or wagon (to carry purchases)
10) Hay Days program
6 Ways to Prepare
1) Make a list of things you want to see, do and buy.
2) Check out parking ahead of time – click here for the map.
3) Eat a good breakfast! You’ll need the energy throughout the day.
4) When you arrive, take a minute to check out the map to get yourself oriented.
5) Head to the swap meet first, as items sell out quickly.
6) Pack light – only the necessities to get you through the weekend.
5 Things to Check out
1) Hay Days Craze – This activity is great for kids! Grab your Hay Days program, visit vendors, and drop off a completed card for a chance to win great prizes!
2) Grass Drags – The grass drags is where it all began, so make sure you check out the races. The finals are a must see!
3) Swap Meet – You never know what you are going to find here!
4) Terracross / Freestyle events – Action-packed motorsports fun for the entire family. Check out the program for show times.
5) Club Row – Support your local club and buy a $1 ticket for a chance to win a snowmobile. 80% of the proceeds are donated back to local snowmobile clubs to assist with trail expenses.
6) Vendor Area – Hundreds of vendors attend the show, including the BIG FOUR manufacturers: Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha. For a complete listing of vendors, click HERE.
Story and photos by Jessica Kline