Badger State Games snowmobile torch ride stops in Merrill
TINA L. SCOTT
The 2021 Snowmobile Torch Ride for the 32nd Annual Badger State Winter Games stopped in Merrill last Thursday, Jan. 14. The ride, which is usually done via snowmobile, had to be modified a bit this year due to lack of snow. The snowmobile for the ride was actually transported between stops via truck and trailer. The ride started in Wausau and then stopped at two locations in Merrill: first at 365 Powersports (formerly The Snow Shack) on Brandenburg Avenue a few miles south of Merrill, and then at Duwayne Kreager Insurance Center Inc. on Center Avenue in Merrill.
The two-day ride continued on to end in Arbor Vitae on Thursday, then started again Friday morning, Jan. 15, and finished the planned route in Eagle River later that day.
Nick Ockwig, Director/Badger State Games, spoke about the significance of the torch ride. “We will be going up for the opening of the Badger State Games and lighting the cauldron to officially open up the 32nd edition of the Badger State Winter Games,” he said. “We have all of our friends here traveling with us, and all of our sponsors that are supporting both the Badger State Games and the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC). It’s all about snowmobiling in Wisconsin and the Badger State Games!”
Thirteen businesses sponsored the ride along with snowmobile clubs from Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties. Lincoln County snowmobile clubs included L&L Tree Dodgers, Rock Island X-Press, Northwoods Passage, and Knight Owls Snowmobile Club.
Originally organized by the Wisconsin Amateur Sports Corporation, a non-profit, the Badger State Games has evolved through the years and is now organized through the Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau. Both summer and winter games are held each year, with most events taking place in the greater Wausau area. The Winter Games take place from January through April and typically include more than 20 different sports and events.
A number of the Winter Games have been canceled this year, and the status of a few are still “To Be Determined,” so be sure to confirm event details before heading out to watch a particular event.