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Playing in the mud at Gopher Dunes

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People from all over southern Ontario came out for the 19th annual Spring 4x4 Mudfest at Gopher Dunes, south of Courtland, Sunday afternoon.

“I would say we had roughly 2,800 people out yesterday,” said Gopher Dunes owner Frank Schuster. “We had about 390 trucks and the rest were spectators.”

Pleased with the turnout, despite the wet and rainy weather for part of the afternoon, Schuster said he was happy to see people out enjoying some springtime mud bogging fun.

“Contrary to belief, rain isn’t a really good thing for a Mudfest – a lot of times it can deter certain parts of the event,” he said. “People get cold, they get wet, it’s good for a little while but it just takes a little bit of the fun out of it. All in all it went pretty good. The whole idea of the event is just for people to let loose a little bit and have fun in a controlled environment.” The annual springtime event kicked off at 12:30 p.m. and entertained the crowds with plenty of mud splashing and 4x4 off-roading theatrics until it wrapped up at 5 p.m.

Jason White of Ilderton was a first-time participant.

“This is my first year,” said White. “I’ve been here the last two years, just watched a few and from there went to building one.”

Driving a 1992 Ford F150 on two-and-a-half ton GMC axels, White said it was an experience he was looking forward to.

“I grew up watching them. We grew up doing it in fields and smaller areas and then it grew into this - it’s more competitive.

“I enjoy it. It’s much more fun running in it than watching it.”

For Johnny Kooi of Waterford, Mudfest every spring is a must. A veteran participant, Kooi has been returning to Gopher Dunes every year since Mudfest began in 1994.

“Since day one. I’ve been coming here for more than 17 years,” said Kooi. “It’s a great party – I just love to play in the mud. I love trucks and cars.”

Kooi said he has no plans to slow down or retire.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said with a smile. “I’ll still be here when I’m 80 years old.”

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