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ISHOF – Honoring Snowmobiling Heroes!

By Jim Duke

Throughout the past 60-plus years, there have been a number of visionaries, volunteers, industry giants and those destined to write about any or all the noteworthy accomplishments of these individuals. There also have been any number of local clubs, community organizations and even state snowmobile associations that have occasionally gathered to honor and pay tribute to all their efforts. But none has ever come close to the global recognitions one particular organization bestows on snowmobiling enthusiasts and those who have labored tirelessly to make the winter sport what it has become today. The organization is, of course, the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. 

The International Snowmobile Hall of Fame is located in the World Snowmobile Headquarters in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Currently, more than 125 past inductees and awards recipients are recognized there, and all have made some significant contribution to snowmobiling to make it one of the most popular winter recreational activities in today’s busy and ever-changing environment.

It has been more than 30 years since the first individuals were nominated, selected and inducted into the Hall of Fame. Better known simply as ISHOF (pronounced ice-hof) by snowmobiling aficionados the world over, it is quite a unique institution supported primarily through private donations and other snowmobile-related sponsorships. The original location for the Snowmobile Hall of Fame was Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and the first induction ceremony was held there in 1989. Several years later, it was moved to its present location.

International Snowmobile Hall of Fame

ISHOF is a 501(c)3 organization and all funding received is redirected toward future recognition of those who have made an impact on the sport of snowmobiling in one or more of the five eligible selection categories. They may be Inventors & Designers or from within the Manufacturing sector; they may be an Explorer & Adventurer; they might be involved with Trail and Program Development; or maybe they come from the Publishing & Journalist fields. All are equally noteworthy, but none more so than those selected from the fifth category, the Volunteers & Club Organizers, without whom the industry and the sport could not survive.

The Class of 2020 Inductees represent four of the five categories and all come with a long list of qualifications, having excelled in their respective fields. Terry Hutchinson is both a volunteer and a club organizer who hails from Prior Lake, Minnesota. He has nearly five decades of organized snowmobiling to his credit and was instrumental in negotiating a merger of three snowmobile clubs into a single group called Sno-Trails Inc.

Terry Hutchinson of Prior Lake, Minnesota
Terry Hutchinson of Prior Lake, Minnesota, honored and inducted for his achievements in the Club Organizer & Program Developer category

Peggy Spieger of LaPine, Oregon, was a nominee in the Trail Program Developer & Volunteer category. Her first ride on a snowmobile was some 40 years ago and she was hooked almost immediately. Shortly after, she and her husband first joined their local club and the Oregon State Snowmobile Association, where she has continuously made contributions to the sport of snowmobiling.

Peggy Spieger, of LaPine, Oregon
Peggy Spieger, of LaPine, Oregon, achieved notoriety as a trail program developer and tireless volunteer

John Prusak was nominated for induction into ISHOF as a publisher and journalist, and he brings a full basket of qualifications. John began his journalistic career in 1993, when he was hired into Ehlert Publishing as an associate editor for the company’s several magazines, including Snow Goer, Snow Week and Snowmobile Business. John continues to be a major player in the magazine business today, keeping the sport of snowmobiling as a top priority.

John Pruzak of New Hope, Minnesota
John Pruzak of New Hope, Minnesota, has the reputation for being a highly qualified journalist and publisher of several national magazines

The final nominee for induction was Linda Rockwood of Utica, New York. She was nominated in the Inventor & Designer category. As founder of Mohawk Valley GIS in 2003, she saw the need for snowmobilers to have a Snowmobile Trail Webmap and rallied to the cause. Her vision of having the ability to locate such amenities as gas, food and lodging as well as snowmobile trails from a mobile phone blossomed from a dream to reality as she worked to design and develop the smart phone app for the Snowmobile Trail Webmap. Sadly, Linda succumbed to a serious illness in January of this year and was inducted posthumously.

The late Linda Rockwood of Utica, New York
The late Linda Rockwood of Utica, New York, was a pioneer in the SnowmobileTrail Webmap and smart phone app design business. Her vision in snowmobile navigation development and GIS technology was truly a ground-breaking achievement

Some other awards also presented at the induction ceremony was the 2020 International Snowmobile Club of the Year, the 2020 International Snowmobile Dealer of the Year and the International Groomer Operator of the Year, just to name a few. 

The festivities began Friday, Sept. 25, at the World Snowmobile Headquarters in Eagle River. Attendees were treated to snacks and beverages, picked up their credentials and got a first peek at items in the silent auction. Later in the day, some opted for the pirate ship cruise on the lakes while others preferred to do a bit of shopping in town. Regardless of choice, everyone arrived at the local VFW hall for the Friday evening fish fry and dinner program.

Saturday morning, attendees were left to their own devices. Not ISHOF-related, but after lunch, ACSA’s Trails Users got together at the Derby Track for a brief meeting, and accommodations were made for a webinar connection for those unable to make it to Eagle River this year.

Trails Chair Bob King kicked off the meeting with a short welcome and presented the agenda of action items to be discussed. Attendees from Michigan were MISORVA’s President Jim Kelts and Secretary Karyn Hautamaki as well as Past Presidents Ron Corbett and me. ACSA Executive Director Christine Jourdain is also a Michigan resident. A common issue of primary concern among the states seems to be the intrusion of wheeled vehicles onto groomed and designated snowmobile trails, which destroys the trail surface for snowmobile use.

The main event kicked off Saturday afternoon with a social hour and silent auction, followed by a fantastic dinner. After dinner, ISHOF President Joann Smith offered opening remarks and recognition of honored guests, hall of fame members in attendance and other VIPs.  

International Snowmobile Hall of Fame

International Groomer of the Year Award was presented to Don Wild of Antigo, Wisconsin. International Snowmobile Club of the Year went to Sno-Trails of Hayward, Wisconsin, and the International Snowmobile Dealer of the Year was Day’s Powersports in Bloomer, Wisconsin. Beginning with the induction ceremonies, each inductee was introduced with stories of achievements and why they were selected for induction into the prestigious International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. They then were presented with their traditional portrait, clock, name tag and lapel pin.

Once the induction ceremony was completed, the final presentation of the evening was the Edgar Hetteen Memorial Award of Merit, presented this year to James Lewis of Springfield, Missouri, in recognition of his many accomplishments and innovations in the design, manufacture and improvements of the “Top Cog” snowmobile drive belts that are standard on all snowmobiles built in today’s industry.

The evening ended with more socializing and accolades to the 2020 awards recipients and hall of fame inductees. Once again, the event was considered very successful by all in attendance and plans are already under way for next year’s event.

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