Event organizers were more than enthused Saturday, as a crowd of more than 400 people came out to attend the first (and hopefully annual) Downtown Rhinelander ATV Pull and Pub Crawl event sponsored by Downtown Rhinelander Inc.
The pull, which was held on Anderson Street behind the Rhinelander Cafe and Pub and the Elbo Room, was a league-sanctioned competition from the Central Wisconsin Pullers Association. In the competition, large, heavily-modified ATVs hooked up to a trailer on which weight could be gradually increased. The ATVs that were able to pull the trailer the furthest was declared the winner. Pullers were broken into several categories based on the size and power of their ATVs.
“It was a nice event,” said Ed Orlikowski, the manager of the Best Western Claridge and Claridge Clubhouse and the coordinator of the event. “I think, given how successful this was for a first-time event, we’ll definitely strongly consider doing it again.”
Orlikowski said that he began looking at the pull as a way to attach an outdoor event to the pub crawl. Last year, the crawl featured the Budweiser Clydesdales, who paraded down Brown Street making deliveries of Budweiser products to downtown taverns. The popular horses aren’t available every year, however, and organizers wanted to do something that would draw more patrons downtown.
“We wanted to keep the Pub Crawl going as a yearly event, so we thought we’d try out the ATV Pull this year,” said Orlikowski. “It was definitely something new for Rhinelander, but people came out and had a great time.”
There were some skeptics at first, though. The Downtown Rhinelander Inc. (DRI) Board of Directors was hesitant to approve the event downtown at first until meeting with Orlikowski and BucketHeads owner Mike Hastreiter, who assured the group that the event would be safe and successful. There were also concerns that the pulling trailer, or the ATVs themselves, would cause damage to city streets. Besides some “burned rubber” on Anderson Street, there was no damage, alleviating those concerns.
“I’ll admit that I was pretty nervous about this event being right downtown at first,” said John Mason, owner of the Elbo Room Lounge and a DRI board member. “I think this was a great event, though. It brought a lot of people to town, and a lot of local people that wouldn’t normally be downtown came out for it. It was a great event and people had a great time.”
Orlikowski said that he hopes to grow the event next year, and encouraged more local involvement in the pull itself. According to the Central Wisconsin Pullers, anyone can bring an ATV to participate in the contest, and Orlikowski would love to see more locals come out to pull.
“I’d like to see every tavern downtown sponsor a local puller next year,” said Orlikowski. “That would be a lot of fun, and a great way to get everyone involved. Heck, I might even get one one myself!”