Tidal waves of mud exploded from beneath his Ford stock truck. Logan Douglas was at home behind the wheel and in the mud.
“It’s not a competition, it’s just fun,” Douglas said of the summertime events that can host up to 20 vehicles driving through the course’s five acres of mud pits. “It definitely gets hectic. You wish you could run some people over sometimes, but I’ll do this as long as I’m around.”
The 16-year-old high school junior only recently began mud bogging, but his step-father, Doug Jarman, has been organizing bog parties since 1984 on the family’s Farwell crop farm.
Although they began as casual get-togethers, crowds at the parties has grown to up to 1,200 attendees.
“If you build it, they will come,” Jarman said. “I’d rather they be here than messing around out on the road. This was always a dead piece of land. It’s a swamp for practical purposes.”
As the economy shifted, the farm began to suffer, and Jarman needed a way to keep it going. He began developing the 187-acre farmland to host events on holidays over the summer, such as Labor Day and Independence Day.
The farm has been in the Jarman family since 1886 and was once a dairy and then beef farm, before switching to crops.
“(The farm) is so small, you can’t make a living off it anymore,” Jarman said. “We had to do something to keep the farm alive.”
Jarman is planning a haunted forest event this Halloween with a $5 cover charge, just like all the other events.
He’s been amazed, over the years, at the variety of vehicles participants have brought to the mud.
“I’ve had everything out here from a Jeep Grand Cherokee to a truck with 66-inch tractor tires,” Jarman said. “Anything from street stock to you-name-it, they’ve had it. It’s unbelievable what you get out here.”
Bringing guests from Bay City, Mackinac Bridge and around the west side of Michigan, Jarman is grateful for newcomer dedication to the mud bog.
“They come from all corners of the state,” Jarman said. “People tell me they plan their vacation time around this. We get a lot of positive feedback.”
With little advertising, using a small Facebook page as the only means of promotion, Jarman has seen attendance grow primarily through word-of-mouth.
“Every mud bog, I meet someone who’s here for the first time, and they’d never heard of it,” he said. “We don’t advertise, but as long as they understand it’s not a free-for-all, everything’s okay. People like to get dirty.”
Next year, Jarman plans to expand the course by clearing more of the corn and soybean crops that surround the mud pits, to better accommodate the larger crowds.
“If you keep the crowd under control, it’s great,” Jarman said. “We’ve had very few altercations. We average about one per event. When you have that many people with that much alcohol, it happens.”
Cleaning up after the droves of mud bog enthusiasts, Jarman said he returned $187 worth of cans after the Labor Day event.
Farwell resident Sally Eberhart has been attending Jarman’s mud bogs for three years, and lived next door for eight. She said she enjoys the camaraderie at the events, which began to surge in popularity over the last five years.
“It’s the fun, the good people and the trucks,” Eberhart said. “We get to see what can go through what. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
According to Eberhart, safety is paramount at Jarman’s bog. A strict policy mandates “no mudding after dark,” and up to three tractors are usually on hand to pull stuck cars from the mud.
Drivers are not allowed to take back-seat passengers, and must wear seat belts and cannot pull other trucks.
“As long as they mind their p’s and q’s, they’ll be fine,” Jarman said of the drivers. “If they can stick it, we can pull it.”
A Farwell driver, who is only known as Shaggy, has been attending the events for the past four years.
The seasoned driver customized two Ford stock trucks for the mud bog and assists in the tractor pulls when other drivers get stuck in the mud.
“It’s fun and entertaining,” Shaggy said of the events. “I get to work on my trucks a lot. There’s a lot of cool trucks that get brought up. It’s just one of those things you have to experience first-hand. You either become an addict or not.”