FAIRMONT - Any person who can pull off a successful Winter Rendezvous when there's no snow should qualify as Minnesota "Snowmobiler of the Year."
However, Greg Gellert of Fairmont doesn't believe that is what landed him the honor.
"I was just nominated for this and the unsung hero award, which is for people going beyond the call of duty," Gellert said. "I was surprised by it."
A snow enthusiast since he was a child, Gellert was the kid who always "prayed for snow," and even made sure his yard had enough snow by taking some from neighbors.
As an adult, Gellert has been a part of the Minnesota United Snowmobiler's Association for 28 years, along with being an active member of the local Blizzard Snowmobile Club.
"When the snowmobile club got the grants for established trails and the groomer, that was probably the biggest highlight," Gellert said. "It was shortly after I joined, and I was glad I was able to help bring that to southern Minnesota. Back then, there weren't snowmobile trails around here; most were in central Minnesota and up north."
Last year, Gellert and the Blizzard Snowmobile Club hosted the statewide Winter Rendezvous in Fairmont. But the drought had taken hold and there was little to no snow for snowmobiling.
"When I was presented the award, I said I must have not prayed hard enough for snow last year, because we didn't get any," Gellert said. "But this year, people were still talking about how we pulled it off. They talked about how much fun they had. With less snow, there was more visiting than normal, so people were visiting with old friends, and making new ones."
While Gellert feels honored to receive the award, he praises others.
"I have to thank all the snowmobile club members that help out, because it's not just me," Gellert said. "I also need to thank my wife, Nancy, for putting up with me these past 28 years. I know there were times when I was busy doing snowmobiling stuff when I really should have been doing family stuff. I'm grateful she puts up with me."
With the award, Gellert's name is put into the running for the national Snowmobiler of the Year award.
If anything, Gellert hopes the award will inspire more snowmobilers to get involved with organizations.
"I'd like to see more people to be members of the club and be active at the state level," he said. "They can always be members without having to attend every meeting or going and putting up signs if they don't want to."