Saturday was a quad rider’s paradise, with the sun shining and the fields full of mud, and the sounds of laughter and revving engines filled the air as around 600 riders took part in the annual Ashmont quad rally.
Danny Weinmeier, an organizer for the event, explained the event acts as a fundraiser for the Ashmont Ag Society and the community Agriplex, adding, “It pretty much keeps the doors open for the year – it’s a pretty big thing.”
When planning for outdoor events, the weather is always a wild card, and while rain and wet snow were forecast for the day, riders lucked out with the rain coming overnight, but skies clearing in the morning.
“It was ideal for quadding – the rain just added to the moisture on the field, and the sun came out during the day and kept everyone nice and dry on the trail,” said Weinmeier.
At the halfway point, the Boscombe 4-H Multi-club served up hot dogs and soup, and warm drinks, in exchange for a donation to the club. Ashmont Fire Department members were also at the midway point, ready to respond in case of fire or, as first responders, to any injuries.
When asked if their services have been needed in the past, Capt. Allen Preston says with a smile, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. And a few years ago, multiply that by 10.”
But last year and this year, the St. Paul RCMP has had two members attend to ride the trail, and this has led to much calmer trail rides for the Ashmont fire volunteers, he said.
“The presence of the RCMP has drastically reduced incidences,” said Preston.
“It’s peace of mind for landowners too, and for the organizers, it’s nice to have them too,” agreed Weinmeier, noting that having a radio club from Cold Lake stationed through the trail was also helpful for communication.
Quad riders from across the province and from the local area voiced their appreciation for the event, with Brent Strilchuk from Sherwood Park adding that he and a group of friends have been coming to the rally for five or six years.
“We like going quadding, and this probably one of the best ones,” said Strilchuk, explaining he had come out with a group of 15 people on nine machines. The quad rally features “great people, and it’s very well-organized,” he adds.
Ryan Pearson, who was also part of Strilchuk’s group, says the other appeal is that his 12 and 13-year-old can ride the 35 miles of trail safely, with no dangerous obstacles out there to injure them.
“They make the ride good,” he said of organizers, adding as he looked out into the sunshine and the trail beckoning ahead. “It’s beautiful.”
Weinmeier extended his thanks to all the volunteers, attendees and landowners for making the event a successful one.
RCMP received appreciative comments for their presence at the event from multiple participants and community members, according to a release sent on Monday from RCMP.
“Unfortunately, a police presence on the ride did not stop some participants from drinking and driving. St. Paul RCMP responded to an injury collision on the trail, where alcohol is believed to have been a factor,” states the media release.
The driver of the ATV sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to hospital. RCMP conducted two check-stops at different points along the trail, which resulted in three people being charged criminally for impaired operation of a motor vehicle, failure to provide a breath sample to a qualified technician, and failure to provide a breath sample for an approved screening device respectively.
Police also issued three alcohol-related driving suspensions and issued several warnings for other potential charges, including registration and insurance violations under the Traffic Safety Act.