OHV at the Fair
The great Minnesota get together is in full swing! The DNR has a whole building and several outdoor spaces dedicated to showing the public all of the awesome things that we’re working on across divisions at the DNR. The Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) program is no exception to that. Part of my position as the CCMI OHV Specialist is to set up our booth and coordinate volunteers to staff the display throughout the fair. This was a cool experience to be a part of this year, having interacted with this display as a fairgoer in the past.
Each year, we have two or three “machines” at the display to catch the eyes of fair participants. “Machines” is shorthand to refer to a wide variety of possible vehicles: ATVs, UTVs or side by sides, dirt bikes, pit bikes, competition rigs, Jeeps, etc. The OHV program coordinates with local powersports dealerships to have new, shiny machines on display. Not only does this allow us to promote local businesses, it also spares the DNR from storing and maintaining machines that are only used for this brief window of time each year. This year, we reached out to the awesome folks at Leo’s South in Lakeville, MN and they were excited for the opportunity to lend us some machines. Ultimately, they lent us a youth dirt bike and a youth ATV to have on display and these are definitely some fun, attention-grabbing show pieces.
We also have Trail Ambassadors (TAs) staff the booth each year. The Trail Ambassador program was established in 2007 by the state legislature and is a coordinated effort between Parks & Trails and the Enforcement division. The program exists to promote safe, responsible, and sustainable OHV recreation through personalized conversations and informal monitoring efforts. Once volunteers sign up and onboard as TAs, they spend time monitoring the trails, interacting with OHV operators, answering questions about the trail system, and sharing information about safety, OHV regulations, and best practices. They also look for places where trail maintenance is needed, like areas with downed trees, washouts, or damaged signage. TAs then submit a report documenting all the day’s actions and encounters so the DNR can gauge how many people TAs interacted with annually, what information they shared, what materials were handed out, how trail conditions were reported, how many invasive species they noticed, and other data that is helpful to the continuation of the Trail Ambassador program.
Circling back to the State Fair, our TAs spend their valuable time at the booth, doing many of the same things they do on the trails: handing out information like OHV regulations and Trail Atlases, answering questions about Minnesota’s OHV system and riding opportunities, and engaging the public about motorized recreation. One of my duties this year was to coordinate with over 200 TAs, schedule volunteer shifts, mail admission tickets, and share all necessary information about logistics and specifics about volunteering at the fair. All the hard work and time put in has paid off – the fair has finally arrived, the booth looks great, and my job here is done!