You never know about the weather but this year conditions were perfect for both quadding and sledding for the 12th Bentley Monkey Top Saloon Sled/Quad Fun Rally.
The 2013 version, held on February 16, was the biggest one ever according to organizer and Monkey Top owner Annie Thyr who stated there were 359 registrations this year.
Last year saw fewer than 150 entries and there was a lack of snow for snowmobiles.
In 2011, despite having too much snow for quads, there were still just over 300 entries with each entrant given two hands.
There were 277 registered in 2010 and just over 200 in 2009.
In 2008 there were low numbers (only 154) after the rally had to be delayed due to flooding of the Monkey Top after water pipes burst but in 2007 an estimated 300 entered and there was deep snow, so organizers can never estimate the amount of interest.
As usual, participants this year came from as far away as Fort St. John B.C., Manitoba and Fort McMurray and from all points in between with most from central Alberta.
Some who entered made it into a family outing.
Local rally enthusiast Carmen Hrynyk believes they had the youngest ones on the trail with daughters eight-month-old Hallie and two-year-old Capri. “The kids just loved it,” said Hrynyk. “We really enjoyed it (the day) and had fun. The kids really slept good that night after being in the fresh air so much.”
Hrynyk said the family, including grandpa and grandma Dave and Marlaine Stephenson, were out on the trail from about noon until 5 p.m.
Rallyists started at the Monkey Top Saloon, and after making a loop and going through three checkpoints on Gull Lake, returned to the Monkey Top by 5 p.m. It was not a race, just a rally, so people could go as fast or take as much time as they wanted. One of the checkpoints on the ice was set up as a bonfire/wiener roast where people could take a break, warm up, and eat or visit.
At the conclusion back at the Monkey Top, five prizes were awarded.
The high hand was won by Len Campbell from Jarvis Bay and the low hand by Janine Kobi from Innisfail.
Three mystery hands were won by Erin Garries from Bentley, Brian Duke from Innisfail, and Pearle Campbell from Sylvan Lake.
There is no way of estimating how much money was brought into Bentley by this event but the Monkey Top was extra busy as was the gas station that was busy fuelling up machines and jerry cans both before and after the rally.