In tribute to winter

Cold and snow and the memory of a beloved snowmobile event organizer fueled the success of a Town of Port gathering of vintage snow machines and their well-bundled owners

Snowrunners Club President Steve Krier of Port Washington (seated) and Cory Passineau of Allenton were two of the organizers for Saturday’s vintage snowmobile run and show held in honor of Jed and Jerry Ostermann at R&R Bar and Grill in Port Washington. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Jed Ostermann would have enjoyed Saturday.

After two years of being canceled because temperatures were above freezing, the Snow Runners Antique Snowmobile Show actually had plenty of cold weather to go along with snow on Saturday, perhaps courtesy of Ostermann.

“Yeah, exactly,” Ostermann’s brother-in-law Cory Passineau said.

Ostermann helped organize the annaul show, which had been held in memory of his father and known as Jerry’s Ether Run and Show.

“It was Jed’s creation,” Snow Runners president Steve Krier said.

This year, the event was promoted as Jed and Jerry’s Ether Run and Show.

Jed died on Jan. 2 of a heart attack at the age of 51.

“I think that’s why a lot of guys are coming out today,” Passineau said.

He had helped with the event every year, but this time was different.

“This year it obviously meant a lot more to me,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one.

“It means a lot to everyone. A lot of people were very passionate about losing a close friend,” Krier said.

An estimated 200 people dropped by R&R Bar and Grill in the Town of Port Washington in a seven-hour span for fellowship, food and flying through the snow on their machines. People enjoyed gathering around a bonfire outside to stay warm or would head inside the bar.

“It seemed like bigger than normal,” Passineau said.

The event was free with a donation asked for each bowl of chili. Proceeds went to the Jed Ostermann Memorial Fund.

Jed, like his father Jerry, would not have wanted the praise.

Both were known for their mechanical skills, generosity and preference to work behind the scenes.

Jed grew up in Grafton and became a journeyman tool and die maker. He most recently worked as a machinist at Strattec in Milwaukee.

He collected beer cans, toy tractors and snowmobiles and was active in the Snow Runners and Kohlsville Krusiers, helping to maintain trails.

There’s no shortage of work.

Snow Runners, one of five clubs in Ozaukee County, handles 70 miles’ worth.

Members work with landowners to mark and grade the trails.

“It’s all volunteer,” Krier said.

The club has 100 memberships, but including family members that total could easily be double, Krier said.

Besides Saturday’s event, Ostermann was instrumental in organizing the 50-year anniversary celebration of the Bolens’ Diablo Rouge snowmobiles held January 2017 in Port Washington.

It took three years to put together and drew people from North America and abroad.

“The vintage subculture is bigger than people think,” Krier said.

With new sleds costing $12,000 or more, old sleds costing hundreds of dollars can quickly look attractive.

Beyond the cost of the machines, riders need a truck and trailer to haul them and proper clothing.

The season runs from Dec. 15 to March 15, but participation relies on Mother Nature.

“Sometimes it (sled) never leaves the garage,” Passineau said.

But on Saturday, plenty did. All machines and people were welcome.

“Anything old, anything new,” Krier said.

Bitterly cold weather didn’t deter anyone. They bundled up and enjoyed the time.

Passineau grew up in the hobby and Krier got involved in 1986 through the owner of Port Yamaha.

“My best friend is Mike Eidenberger. He kind of made me,” he said.

Krier quickly learned to love the sport and seeing nature.

“I enjoy just the exhilaration of driving and the camaraderie. Snowmobilers in general like to help each other.”

Riders usually go out in groups. “It’s kind of like a club,” Passineau said.

Trails allow for vast travel.

“You can go anywhere in the state from here,” Krier said.

Trails have gas stations and taverns along the way for food and supplies.

Up north, certain businesses depend on snowmobiling.

The ease of travel has allowed people to belong to multiple clubs, including those out of the area.

Snow Runners has members from Illinois, Krier said.

A vintage sled, he said, can travel about 50 miles at a time. New ones can reach 150 or more.

Speeds can reach faster than the 60 mph, but the speed limit is 55.

New sleds include better technology, including suspension improvements, fuel injection, hand and seat warmers and electric starters.

Krier said companies are experimenting with battery power.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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