Updated: Feb 10
There are dream jobs, and then there’s what Derek Guetter is doing.
Guetter is the youngest of four siblings, and all four are members of the touring company he founded, ATV Big Air Tour, which graced the Brown County Fair with a brief, weather-shortened performance Sunday afternoon.
Guetter’s wife, Larissa, whom he met while touring in Australia, is the co-owner. Older brother Jon rides with and managers operations for the tour. Oldest brother Dan does graphic design and just got into riding in the shows himself. Sister Jamie does merchandise. She’s married to Bart, the emcee. Dan is married to Shannon, who does marketing for the tour.
There are other members of the team, too, but it all revolves around the Guetter family, who came out of a dairy farm in tiny Wabasso, Minn., a town of about 700.
It’s a bunch of little daredevil farm kids’ dream come true.
“My family still raises corn and soybeans in southwestern Minnesota,” Derek Guetter said. “We grew up watching people jump ATVs in movies. My oldest brother, Dan, he got us into it. We just progressively started getting better and better — better than the people in the movies, and we just randomly ended up in California. My older brother (Jon), who’s not here (with an injury), he was the first person in the world to backflip an ATV. From there we took off, doing it all over the world, full-time.”
The Guetters rode with bigger, international tours for 10 or 11 years before deciding it was time to start something a little closer to home. Based out of their hometown, Big Air tours mostly in the Midwest, though it hits the East Coast a bit and will head down to Florida for the winter for the first time this February.
“This tour we hit 19 cities, eight different states,” Derek Guetter said. “Now we’re going to Florida. It gets bigger every year, and we have so much momentum now, it’s been so much fun.”
Shannon Guetter, the marketing gal, is new to the game. She’s from southern California originally, but came back to Wabasso with Dan.
“Boys coming from a small town of 700 people, building this company, employing their friends and family, taking us out on tour, getting to meet people all over, who gets to do that with their lives?” Shannon Guetter said. “I ask them, do you ever take a moment? You’re a small-town farmer boy who decided you want to jump ATVs. It’s a dream come true.”
Now they’re making others’ dreams come true, one at a time.
John Langaas was a North Dakota State freshman studying mechanical engineering with a serious hobby. Then he got a call from Derek Guetter.
“This spring I was hanging in my dorm room and got a call from Derek,” Langaas said. “They said, ‘Hey, we have a spot on the tour open. You want to come ride?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll drop everything.’”
Langaas is the tour intern. He jumps ATVs in the show — he met the Guetters at a freestyle show about four years ago — but also drives the bus, writes blog posts and more.
“It’s not just jumping ATVs,” Langaas said with a laugh. “It’s a lot. Sometimes that’s the least stressful thing I do all day.”
Langaas started riding ATVs in kindergarten. He started racing at 8, jumping at 14 and jumping semi-professionally at 16. Then, after freshman year at NDSU, the Guetters took him on tour.
Sunday Langaas rode in the show, brief as it was. Monday he has to be back in class at Fargo.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “I live pretty close to home, where I have a ramp and stuff, so I can go home on weekends and ride, get some energy out, but I’ll be kind of cramped up.”
But this is the life with the Guetters now.
“I won’t say it’s easy,” Derek Guetter said. “I’ve broken about every bone you can imagine. So many injuries. I’m glad I stuck with it this long. Sleeping off couches and doing that for so long, it’s cool to see commitment come together. That’s the story with everybody here. It’s a dream come true.”
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By Cuyler Meade at Aberdeen News