Mudfest is not about going home at night to a nice hotel. It is not about little individually-wrapped soaps. It is not about sweet-smelling shampoo and air conditioning. It’s about heat. It’s about sweat. It’s about dirt literally coming out of your eyes and ears. Camping on the grounds is the only way to experience Okeechobee Mudfest.
Nobody is doing it bigger or better than Jerry Melvin and the “Jersey Boys,” — a group of 25 from South Jersey that made the 20-hour drive to Mudfest with five haulers and 20 ATVs.
They arrive bleary-eyed Friday morning, but they waste no time hitting the mud pits. Most people are still setting up their camps or exploring the grounds while these guys are getting dirty in the mud.
“It goes through just about anything. The ultimate mud vehicle is the Can-Am Outlander X mr, hands down.” — Jerry Melvin
Jerry’s powering through on his 2011 Can-Am® Outlander™ 800R X™ mr, an ATV built from the ground-up for an event like Mudfest.
“It goes through just about anything,” he says. “The ultimate mud vehicle is the Can-Am Outlander X mr, hands down.”
Greg McMullen, manager of ATV modification specialist Gorilla Axle, would be happy to hear that. He helped design the vehicle.
“It’s an ATV built strictly for mud racing and mud riding,” Greg explains. “It’s built so the customer can go straight to the dealer, and get something already set up with bigger tires, and axles and snorkels purposely for mud riding. It’s top of the line.”
While the Can-Am Outlander X mr is ideal, there are plenty of Can-Am Outlander and Can-Am Renegade™ ATVs in the group blazing their own trails, too.
Greg Cawley is flying through mud and water on a 2010 Outlander™ 800R XT™, his fourth Can-Am. A seasoned off-roader, Greg’s experienced with bikes, cars and trucks, but says he prefers riding his Can-Am.
“It’s the thrill of being in the middle of it,” Greg says. “Getting muddy, and having all that power.”
Many of these good ole’ Jersey Boys have been here before. There’s just something about the sun, mud and riding a Can-Am that keeps them coming back.
“Been to Mudfest five times,” says Drew Scola, who’s riding a heavily-modified 2011 Can-Am Renegade™ 1000 X™ xc. “It’s a good reason to get out of Jersey in February.”
After a full day of riding, the Jersey Boys retreat to their camp for a night of revelry and fun. But when the sun rises on Saturday, it’s back to business. As the temperature edges close to 80 degrees, it’s time to head for water.
Despite the name, Mudfest is not just about the mud. It’s about taking your ride through a smaller version of Lake Okeechobee. Water is piped in near the back of the Mudfest grounds, creating a lake effect that draws hundreds of ATVs eager to ride in three or four feet of water. The Jersey Boys are making waves in the area like nobody else can.
“It’s the thrill of being in the middle of it. Getting muddy, and having all that power.” — Greg Cawley
All the trucks at Mudfest can only look on and watch as Jerry and company make the area their personal playground.
“We went through a couple holes where trucks were getting stuck,” Jerry says. “We went through with the Can-Am ATVs, no problem. Two-wheel drive, get the front end up in the air, no problem.”
The power of the Can-Am ATVs is something other Mud Festers notice. Wherever the machines go, the cameras come out. It’s not unexpected, explains Jerry. And as for all the other ATVs shutting down in the water, well, that’s just part of the deal.
“Everyone is taking pictures of us going through the water holes on our Can-Am ATVs,” Jerry says. “All the bikes that are getting swamped in the hole, they’re not made by Can-Am.”
In the late afternoon, the group returns to base camp, a place where they cut their own firewood, tune their ATVs, grill burgers, and blast songs like LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” in the background. There’s no doubt these guys know how to have a good time.
In between bites of burger, the guys trade war stories from earlier in the day and talk about where they want to ride before the sun goes down.
“I can’t say I didn’t do everything I wanted to, I just want to do more of it,” Greg says. “It’s a lot messier today than it was yesterday, with all those trucks tearing it up. It’s a little deeper today, a little more fun, and the quads are doing good.”
Indeed, it just feels like there’s not enough time in the day as the sun begins to head west. When you’re flying through the mud, time flies.
Jerry sums up everyone’s thoughts on the weekend coming to a close.
“Going home is going to suck.”