2010-01-27 / Front Page

Snodeo draws big crowds to Rangeley region

By Dan Fayen Special to the Irregular

RANGELEY — What a kick-off for the winter season in the Rangeley Lakes Region! The Rangeley Lakes Region Snowmobile Snodeo drew huge crowds to the annual celebration of the joys of snowmobiling in the western mountains of Maine and the unofficial start of the winter season in the Rangeley Lakes region.

Mother Nature broadly smiled on this year’s event, held last weekend (Jan. 21 to 24) providing brilliant sunshine, a cloudless azure sky and downright balmy (for Rangeley in January) temperatures in the mid-thirties.

Snodeo, a four-day snowmobiling festival whose proceeds help the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club maintain and groom its extensive trail system, provides an abundance of on-trail and off trail activities for virtually everyone. This year’s new additions —a Vintage Snowmobile Exhibit, helicopter rides and a substantially revved-up and an expanded RAVE X Extreme Freestyle Snowmobiling Jumping Demonstration— proved to be hugely popular.

Gold Medal acrobatics Winter X Games Free-Style Snowmobile Gold Medalist Dayne Ferguson, 29, of Anchorage, Alaska, wows the Rangeley Snodeo Rave X Free-Style crowd with dazzling stunts last Saturday, Jan. 23. (Dan Fayen photo) Gold Medal acrobatics Winter X Games Free-Style Snowmobile Gold Medalist Dayne Ferguson, 29, of Anchorage, Alaska, wows the Rangeley Snodeo Rave X Free-Style crowd with dazzling stunts last Saturday, Jan. 23. (Dan Fayen photo) This year’s Snodeo continued the popular traditional activities such as the opening night’s Chili Cook-Off, Casino Night, Poker Run, Raffles (including one for a new $8,000, 2010 Arctic Cat Snowmobile), Radar Run (a 660-foot drag-strip speed course for snow machines on Rangeley Lake’s Russell Cove open to all), various indoor and outdoor children’s activities such a Turkey Bowling and making gingerbread cookies, a downtown Rangeley snowmobile parade, fireworks and the closing Snodeo King and Queen party/fundraiser (this year’s charity was Walkers for Knockers —funding breast cancer research).

Thumbs up to having a great time at Snodeo! (Dan Fayen photo) Thumbs up to having a great time at Snodeo! (Dan Fayen photo) “This is a great opportunity for the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club to provide a calendar event for the club and town,” said Steve Dudley, president of the RLSC and chief organizer of Snodeo. “Snodeo serves as a way to bring people to our 150 miles of trails (the most of any of the registered 277 Maine snowmobile clubs), and to serve as an economic engine for businesses in the Rangeley Lakes Region.

Saturday’s Radar Run attracted hundreds of snowmobilers who vied for awards in several caregories. The youngest Radar Run speed aficionados were Gavin White and Tucker Cummings both four years old, two-year snowmobiling veterans and best friends. The two youngsters, from Sidney, sped down the Radar Run on their modified sled at the palpable delight of their spectating parents. The top speed attained on Saturday’s Radar Run course was a blistering 130 miles per hour.

Going for the strike Samantha Gumpercht, age six of Rangeley, prepares to roll her frozen turkey towards candlepin glory in Snodeo Turkey Bowl action. A strike meant she could keep the bird for Saturday night's dinner. All proceeds from Snodeo's Turkey Bowl benefit the Rangeley PTA. (Dan Fayen photo) Going for the strike Samantha Gumpercht, age six of Rangeley, prepares to roll her frozen turkey towards candlepin glory in Snodeo Turkey Bowl action. A strike meant she could keep the bird for Saturday night's dinner. All proceeds from Snodeo's Turkey Bowl benefit the Rangeley PTA. (Dan Fayen photo) Arguably the biggest draw at this year’s Snodeo was the RAVE X FreeStyle Snowmobile Jump. The RAVE X event drew hundreds of spectators to the jump site at Rangeley’s PJ Power Sports (sponsor of the event) parking lot to watch some of the best national and regional Freestyle Snowmobile Jump athletes perform breath-taking launches 50 feet into the air and perform jaw-dropping acrobatic stunts while airborne. The event featured the 2009 Winter X Games FreeStyle Snowmobile Jumping Gold Medalist Dayne Ferguson (who flew into the event from his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska).

The helicopter rides, provided by C-R Helicopters, was another huge Snodeo draw as throngs lined up for 15- minute low altitude, high speed rides over Rangeley. The helicopter pilot reputedly took passengers on customdesigned flights for flyovers of Rangeley residents’ homes.

Snodeo organizers hope to build on this year’s success to make the 2011 event bigger and better next year.

“Special thanks go to Federal Distributors of Lewiston (a major sponsor of the 2010 Snodeo)” said Steve Dudley, “and to the dozens of Snodeo volunteers who helped make Snodeo possible.”

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