Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Rebekah Lund
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

TJ's Rat Rod Rendezvous turns 10


August 30, 2018

Mahtowa’s biggest event of the year will be happening this Saturday and Sunday in the area surrounding TJ’s store. The Rat Rod Rendezvous, which features shiny, classic cars on Saturday, September 1, and rusty, rough and tumble, rat rods on Sunday, September 2, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.

Tom Bislow, TJ’s owner, was encouraged to start an event 10 years ago by a local club that organized, and then ended up dissolving afterward. Because of the club’s encouragement, Tom started what has become a large, local event drawing in many people. “My goal is to create community here in Mahtowa, and it’s working,” Bislow said.

This event is just one of many that Bislow supports throughout the year. “The Rat Rod event is neat because every entry is so unique,” he said. On Saturday, visitors and entrants can see shiny, polished, classic cars and trucks, and on Sunday, which draws a larger crowd and entrants, visitors can check out vehicles that are more like Johnny Cash’s hit song “One Piece at a Time,” with rusty vehicles being created out of various, often mismatched, vehicles and parts from old barns, fields, and junkyards. Last year brought out 60-70 shiny cars and 100+ rusty rat rods.

“The Rat Rod weekend is affordable and fun. Some of the engineering is impressive, and these cars are fun to drive,” said local rat-rodder and car-lover, Duane Schmidt of Cromwell. He has started bringing his rat rod to the event, and each year, there is some new part or paint or something to show off.

The event is free to enter, and entrants receive a bRATwurst, a participation plaque, and there are awards for the people’s choice and the furthest traveler. Last year’s furthest participant hailed from Montana, and the event regularly attracts people from Thunder Bay, Canada, Iowa, and all over Minnesota.

This year’s event will offer some new attractions for visitors, including: a pinstriper from Minneapolis who will offer custom detailing on vehicles for people, “Myrt the Flirt,”, and also some folk art donated by a rat rodder from Mora. There will also be a swap meet and other vendors, as well as TJ’s food lineup. Basically, the weekend holds something for everyone, as both days have live music and there is even a golf tournament happening the same weekend.

Before we head into the routines of fall, come check out this fun community event! You can find more information on their website: or you can call Tom Bislow at (218) 389-6257 or Roger Rentola at (218) 389-6444.


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