This weekend, I had a blast at the Grafton Ruff Riderz ATV Mud Races. Grafton is approximately a 2 hour drive north of Fargo on I-29. For metro-dwellers around the world, that is 144 miles/231 km one way. I haven’t been up Grafton way for several years, so when my friends asked if I wanted to go, I said sure.
Out there in the middle of what most would call “nowhere,” I remembered something I had long forgotten – nobody gives a damn what you look like, what you do for a living, or what you have in the bank. The only thing that matters is your integrity as a human being. How do you treat other people? That is the only question you have to take away at the end of any given day.
There was an electricity in the air that came straight from the rumble of the ATVs crawling around the grounds, checking out the competition. As a person who has listened to country music since I was old enough to breath, I recognized that none of the women who were racing on Saturday were anywhere near the “Sweet Adalida” or the “Vidalia” variety. Oh hell no! These women were all business - tenacious and determined! I don’t know where they go, who they live with, or what they might do for a living. What I do know is out there in the mud pits, the bogs and the back trails; they are straight-up redneck women and proud of it.
Most city folks focus on one thing and one thing only – how much money do I have? Every day is filled with clinging to the rungs of the corporate ladder or struggling to just live from one day to the next.
Rednecks focus on three things: God, Country and Family – in that order. These folks are hard living/hard playing people. They can run the mud pits all day and party all night, but come Sunday morning, their butts are in the seats of the pews, or giving thanks from the river banks while fishing. Rednecks never forget the God who gave them the life that they have – and they make the best use of it.
They don’t forget the importance of the Stars and Stripes, as evidenced by the singing of the national anthem in the middle of God’s green earth (the Greenbelt) on a June Saturday afternoon. Interestingly enough, the Stars and Bars were in the mix and nobody cared. If there’s a difference in opinion you settle it in the pits and leave it there.
They include everyone in the family from Grandma and Grandpa to the newest of the new. And, if you think that they care if you don’t like breast-feeding in public, you should ask the new mother who fed her baby with no blanket covering her, and nobody noticed. I dare say if you approached her, you may not come out of it looking the same way you did going in. You see, redneck men are very protective of the women they love and more so of their children.
The cops were there and nobody got beaten, broken or arrested, regardless of the color of their skin. Yep, there were black people, Native Americans, Hispanics and White folks. The police were cordial and enjoyed the run just as much as anyone else – because they are human beings too. They visited with folks they knew and folks they didn’t know. They visited with people from Western North Dakota all the way to Wisconsin. They laughed and talked about the 4-wheelers, side-by sides, and the few Harleys that were there.
This was as down-home of a party that ever was with folks getting together to have fun and compete in the pits. It was the celebration of life. It was the stuff that stories are made of – stories of victory and defeat. Stories of the trophy that got away and trophies taken home. Stories that will be handed down from generation to generation. It is the making of memories – the only true lasting value of such a day as this.