If you go

What: Frontier Days, including a pickleball tourney, talent show, men’s beautiful legs contest, parade and more.

Where: La Pine

When: Today 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

LA PINE — There were two kinds of lawn mowers in Saturday’s 16th annual Grand Prix Lawn Mower Race: Those that simply had the blades taken off to run on the road, and those that had been modified to reach 40 to 50 mph.

“They have to have a mower deck on them, and steering and brakes is recommended, I guess,” Sean Surrey, 29, of La Pine said, half-kidding, about regulations for the modified class of lawn mowers racing.

The lawn mower races are a part of the annual Frontier Days celebration in La Pine, a four-day outdoor event that offers everything from old-fashioned apple pie contests to a beard-and-mustache competition.

Joel Brader, 42, of La Pine and owner of Harvest Depot restaurant, stood by a 1980s green Montgomery Ward mower a half hour before the race began, at 10 a.m. Last year, the machine died at the starting line. Brader said he was optimistic it would perform better this year.

“Did you remember to put gas in it?” Surrey said to Brader.

Brader said since he gassed it up before last year’s race, it should be good.

Only four modified lawn mowers entered to compete in the drag-style race that was a straight shot down Huntington Road. Surrey pointed to the 10 or so “stock” lawn mowers that would compete in the short loop race before the drag race.

“Lawn mowers like these aren’t meant to go this fast,” he said.

More than half of the lawn mowers participating Saturday belong to Surrey’s father, Rick Surrey. Different family members and a few friends acted as “drivers” for Rick Surrey’s fleet.

Sean Surrey, who would later drive, shared the lowdown on a few of the different mowers before the cruising began. The one his mother, Debbie Surrey, would drive in the race is one Sean’s parents still use to mow their lawn. Another, with a Western mural painted on the side, is one he himself uses to mow. A third, in a shade of Pepto-Bismol pink, read “tough enough to wear pink!” on the side. That one, he explained, is reserved for one special speedy driver.

For the past four years, Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney has driven the pink mower as the “can cancer fairy.”

At about 10:30 a.m., an official heading the race yelled for drivers to take their mowers to the starting line.

“Bring ’em to the line!” he said. He shouted to the drivers, who stood chatting casually on the sunny pavement, twice more before they stirred.

In a pink helmet, with fairy wings and a tutu, Baney climbed aboard the grass eater in an attempt to claim another victory. Baney said she has won in the stock lawn mower race three of the four years she’s participated.

A few heats passed in which Baney stole the show. The pink mower started off slow at each run, but then quickly would speed up to overtake the others. She even lapped another mower in one of the heats.

Saturday marked her fourth victory in five years. In the modified lawn mower race, Sean Surrey’s dragster-looking mower smoked the others. Still, Brader’s old green mower, driven by friend Charlie Rimel, 36, of La Pine, held its own.

No one had a radar gun around to clock speeds, but onlookers sitting on the curbs watching the mowers speed by made sure to keep their toes tucked to prevent being run over.

After her win, Baney said she’s come a long way from her first race five years ago, back when she had never manned a riding lawn mower before.

“The first year my flag didn’t even catch wind,” she said. In honor of Fourth of July, almost every lawn mower had a large American flag propped on the back.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,

kfisicaro@bendbulletin.com

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