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Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Winter Fun In Roscommon County

By Theresa Ekdom, Contributing Writer

Winter brings the snow to northern Michigan, and there is plenty to do during the winter months in the Houghton Lake area. Whether you enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing or ice fishing, ice skating or winter festivals, Roscommon County is a winter wonderland.

With roughly 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Roscommon County, Houghton Lake is the perfect stop for the snowmobile enthusiast. With northern Michigan’s extensive trail system, abundant snow and exciting terrain, it is the perfect setting for a snowmobiling adventure for all ages. The Houghton Lake area also offers plenty of lodging and snowmobiling friendly pubs and taverns and terrific dining as well.

Houghton Lake is the perfect base for accessing Michigan’s 6100 miles of snowmobile trails. Maps are available at various locations throughout the county, including Houghton Lake Tourism Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce offices in Houghton Lake and Roscommon.

Roscommon County is also the home to a number of winter festivals, as well as ORV and snowmobile events.

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up-Town U.S.A.

It’s a tradition each January to head to Houghton Lake for Tip-Up-Town USA, Michigan’s longest running and largest winter festival. This winter’s event will be held Jan. 21-22 and 28, 2023.

Named after the tip-up, an ice fishing device used to signal when a fish has taken the bait, and the ice shanty towns that pop up when the fish are biting, Tip Up Town was established in 1951.

According to a 1952 newspaper, “for the festival last weekend they had roads scraped through the snow on the lake to make “streets” for Tipup Town (sic). It has been suggested that routes of travel should be maintained all winter long to fishing spots on the lake.

“…TUT is such a bustling and buoyant community that it is hard to realize it simply doesn’t exist during most of the year.”

What began as a fishing contest, has become much more. The festival expanded and through the years was moved off the ice onto the southern DNR boat launch, off of M-55 at 2439 Town Line Road. Plans for 2023 include carnival rides, games on the stage and in the village, food vendors, live music, family fun tent, and a bull riding rodeo. On the ice, in addition to the fishing contest, will be the polar bear dip, Side by Side (SXS) races and snowmobile drag races.

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

The adult beverage tent is two blocks from the festival site, and opens on Friday nights.

Free parking is available at the High School and library with free shuttle service to and from Tip Up Town. A $10 Badge is required to enter the festival grounds.

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, the SXS Grudge races / test & tune event will be held on the ice near the Tip-Up-Town festival site. The grudge style race will not have any structured race classes or awards, everyone who participates will be entered to win giveaways at the end of the day. There will be an oval track and a drag strip available. It is open to SXS only, no preregistration required. The SXS event is sponsored by I’d Brap That. More information can be found at idbrapthat.com/sxs-auto-cross-ice-race.

The second weekend of Tip-Up-Town, Jan. 28, snowmobile drag races will be held on the East Bay of Houghton Lake, approximately three miles east of the festival site.

Come February, winter will have settled in, and the fun and games in Roscommon County continue.

Vintage & Classic Winterfest

The 11th Annual Fast Eddie’s Vintage & Classic Winterfest will be held Feb. 10-12 at 114 Fourth Street, Prudenville. Trestle Park is the new location for the sled show. Snowmobile ice drags (O1 & older), a vintage ride, and the bikini radar run will be held on the East Bay of Houghton Lake.

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Friday is the Test & Tune, drag and show registration. Saturday at noon is the Chuck Ulch Memorial Vintage Ride. It’s quite the sight watching the vintage snowmobiles head out on the ice in a row. Then the drag races start, and the show sled display on land. Sunday at 10 a.m. is the grudge drag racing. The bikini radar run starts at 1 p.m., with proceeds being donated to charity. Show awards is at 3 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 6 p.m., there will be a beer tent and live music.

For more information contact Eddie Korbinski at 989-202-5231. You can also follow them on Facebook at Fast Eddie’s Vintage Sleds.

Saint Helen Snow Run

Feb. 11 the Saint Helen Snowpackers Snowmobile & ORV Club holds its largest fundraiser for the year – the Saint Helen Snow Run.

Registration takes place at their clubhouse, 520 North St. Helen Road, Saint Helen,  Friday night or Saturday morning. Saturday morning, participants head out on a marked route that averages 60 – 80 miles long. There are pitstops along the route with drawings at each. Stop #3 also has a lunch wagon with chili and hot chocolate.

The route starts and ends at the clubhouse, where the prize drawing and silent auction are also held.

For more information, message them through their Facebook page: St. Helen Snowpackers Snowmobile & ORV Club, or call Scott at 989-621-3124.

Higgins Lake Winterfest

Just north of Houghton Lake, the Higgins Lake-Roscommon Chamber of Commerce will be holding their Higgins Lake Winterfest Feb. 17-18, 2023. A $5 badge gets you into most events for free during the weekend. This family friendly festival begins Friday night with a welcome reception at Cross Country Ski Headquarters, 9435 N Cut Rd, Roscommon.

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Roscommon,Houghton Lake

Saturday begins with a pancake breakfast at the Lyon Township fire department. A fishing derby and broomball games will be held at nearby North Higgins Lake State Park. Head to Pioneer Hill near Roscommon for the always entertaining cardboard sled races. Then circle back to Lyon Township for kids activities and the chili cook-off.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at North Higgins State Park, will be the snowmobile radar run. Weather permitting, and a $10 registration fee, will allow you to register on site and see just how fast your snowmobile can run.

Contact the Higgins Lake-Roscommon Chamber of Commerce at 989-275- 8760 for more information on the Higgins Lake Winterfest.

SXS Auto Cross Ice Races 2023

I’d Brap That will host the SXS Auto Cross Ice Races Feb.18 from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Houghton Lake near the South DNR launch site. This event will be about ¼ mile auto cross style flat track with right and left turns. Pre-registration is required, and registration is limited to 50 racers.

This year the non studded SXS classes will be combined into one SXS non studded Open class. The race will be double elimination with grudge style racing afterwards, time permitting. Studded classes will have guaranteed cash payouts. All Classes will have trophies with prizes for non studded classes. For more information, visit idbrapthat.com/sxs-auto-cross-ice-race.

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