Mud meets music in Bonnyville

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All photos by Paula Worthington

PAULA WORTHINGTON

I have a confession to make. Despite being a born and raised Albertan, when someone raised the idea of going to a mud bogging event, I had to Google what it was.

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Images of huge trucks, seemingly dwarfed by even bigger tires, ripping through ominous pits of slick mud. So many questions came to mind: Do you go to a pit, or do you create it? What if you don’t like loud cars? What’s the appeal? And just who does this crazy sort of thing?

I was about to find out.

For those of you equally uninitiated, mud bogging involves driving a vehicle through a set course of mud in the quickest time possible – that is if you make it at all. It draws big crowds and is often part of a weekend-long event, with music, midways, cabarets, food, and beer gardens.

#TakeItToTheLake this summer. Start Planning.

Travelling to my mud bogging adventure would take me on secondary highways that zigzag across Alberta, through small towns I’d heard of in passing but had never visited, and across spectacular countryside. Getting there is often half the fun and Alberta has its share of off-the-beaten path landscapes.

I landed in Provost, AB where a drivers were competing in the Kinsmen Splash and Smash, part of the summer circuit that also includes Bonnyville’s Extreme Mudfest, taking place in Bonnyville, AB, August 26 to 28, 2016.

It’s a mud fest-meets-music festival event, attracting spectators from near and far.

This year, Bonnyville will include musical performances from Trooper, Chad Brownlee, and Cold Creek County, the Chris Buck Band, Olivia Rose and Six String Loaded. The event also includes a baseball tournament, Extreme Mud Run, camping facilities and two full days of mud bogging action.

One of the people behind Bonnyville’s Extreme Muddiest is Rick Reddecliff, a competitor and long-time member of the Canadian Mud Racers Organization, which organizes the season-long circuit.

Reddecliff says Bonnyville attracts a wide range of people.

Sport keeps growing

“We get a lot of people from Calgary, Edmonton and throughout western Canada. Last year, around 78 per cent of the tickets sold were from outside a 40-kilometre radius of Bonnyville.”

Rededcliff started racing in 1997, and has seen the sport grow tremendously.

“A big part of what we do is the welcoming community we provide. It’s incredible to see vehicles hitting speeds of close to 100 miles per hour in 200 feet or less. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.”

Bonnyville’s Extreme Mudfest attracts more than 3,300 people per day, and is in close proximity of plenty of outdoor pursuits such as fishing and boating in the nearby lake communities.

In Provost, at my first-time event, I could see the sense of community and camaraderie almost immediately, even as I timidly entered the competitors’ area.

I was most certainly a fish out of water (or mud, in this case). But within moments I was introduced to families, shown rigs and even secured access to the tower to the best seat in the stadium to watch the show.

I needed a translator to make sense of the itinerary - pro stock, mod stock, tuff trucks, lawn mowers. But Wayne Bensen, emcee of the event, was happy to help me sort it out. Having only missed one race in the past 31 years, Bensen is a veteran in the community.

“It might seem intimidating, but we are a strong community, always helping each other out, it’s a family event.”

Experience is everything, and although I don’t plan on mud bogging anytime soon, the next time I rip through a countryside puddle I’ll unabashedly engage my inner bogger with a smile on my face.

If You Go

For more information about tickets check out the official Extreme Mudfest website.

Take it the the lake this summer and head north, into the MD of Bonnyville and Lac La Biche. Both communities are waterfront and host an incredible array of events all summer.  

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