Minnesotan in training: August 20, 2014

 

The fourth annual Gear-Head Get Together is in the books. An entire year of planning came to fruition and was over just like that.
In full disclosure, I’m not much of a gear-head. I know when I see an awesome-looking vehicle, and I enjoy looking at them, but when it comes to knowing what’s under the hood, I’m usually clueless.
Partly for that reason, I brought my father-in-law, Mark, with me this year. Unlike me, he knows a lot about how those beautiful creations get up and go.
I already knew the Get Together was a great event that drew hundreds of vehicles and thousands of spectators, but his opinion really drove home how great it is.
“The car shows in Buffalo are nice, but this is so much bigger and more unique,” he said.
As we walked around looking for a ‘55 Chevy like my dad’s, which he and Mark recently got started again, we decided we need him here next year. It would be great if he got the ol’ ‘55 running and brought it with him. Even if he doesn’t, though, I really hope he comes and joins the fun.
I want to show him how a town this size can put on a show that size and I know he would appreciate the diversity of the show and the nostalgia of it all.
In addition to all the vehicles, the show also included great entertainment. The White Sidewalls were back by popular demand and, next year, the Squid Wheelies motorcyle stunt show may also be back by popular demand. 
I feel like I don’t need to say much about the White Sidewalls. Their talents speak for themselves, as do the rave reviews from people throughout the Midwest. The music they play is definitely timeless. Though it was topping the charts long before my time, there are very few songs they play that I don’t at least recognize.
The Squid Wheelies were new this year and quite a bit different from the trials rider of a year ago. Instead of jumping up on vehicles and over people, they preferred to whip their bikes around in a relatively small space, sometimes with no hands and other times with no feet. If you missed it, I’m sorry. Pictures won’t do it justice, but I’m still excited to show them off.
In addition to the Get Together was the fly-in at the airport. It’s usually on Labor Day, but they decided to mix it up a bit this year in hopes of building their attendance. 
The weather did not cooperate the best for them. While spectators enjoyed the cloud cover, it kept quite a few planes away. Nonetheless, they had some great variety. 
They also invited high-quality arts and crafts vendors. The organizers, vendors and customers all seemed to leave happy, which is impressive for the first year of an event at the same time as the Buffalo Arts and Craft Show. 
They had plenty of drive-in traffic for the event and went through about 500 pork chops, more than the year before. Pretty good for being up against many more food options downtown. 
A lot of people came together to make both events possible. 
First, there’s the committees of dedicated volunteers. They’ll meet soon to debrief the festivities and start planning next year’s events.
The Get Together is sponsored by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce and its 83 members. Without the support of the Chamber and its members, it wouldn’t be possible. Absolutely every member business contributed in some way this year. Many Chamber members also served as volunteers either directly for the Get Together or with their respective nonprofit organization.
Beyond the committees and sponsors are the plethora of volunteers, both for the events and for the nonprofits who are involved and use the opportunity to raise funds to put back into the community. Without these volunteers, who are obviously not compensated and often overlooked by the general public, community events just wouldn’t happen. 
Other entities are also involved. Without the city staff, for example, some booths wouldn’t be able to get power, the streets wouldn’t be blocked off, trash and recycling containers wouldn’t be in place and aerial photos – courtesy of the city’s boom truck – wouldn’t have been taken this year.
Finally, and just as importantly, is the community overall. The vast majority support this event year in and year out. Many of them attend the event. Even if they don’t, they still show their support in numerous ways. One way is how well everyone works to keep the community clean. After some events in other towns, there’s an unpleasant  musk in the air accompanied by a just as unpleasant collection of trash. It’s very refreshing to see that the community pride here refuses to let that happen.
So, once again, thank you to everyone who made this possible, even if I forgot to mention you by name. Thanks, also, for everyone who came out and supported the event. And, if you missed it, go ahead and get a 2015 calendar, circle the third Saturday in August and make sure you’re in downtown Maple Lake that day. Trust me: you won’t regret it if you’re there, but you’ll definitely regret it if you miss another Get Together.
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