Annual SnoDeo in Stewartstown offered visitors a look forward - and back
The latest in ground-level vehicles capable of racing over trails and across frozen ponds at high speeds were the primary attraction for the approximately 4,000 visitors who either drove in by car or truck over the two-day event - or came by snowmobile.
Most riders parked their snow machines on frozen Diamond Pond at Coleman State Park, a hub for the network of North Country trails that lead in from all points.
A steady whirr of machinery from overhead added to the two-day soundtrack as a constant stream of customers took advantage of helicopter rides to get a broader view of the event.
Rather than just getting the usual pitch from snowmobile manufacturers' salespeople, "People can come here and talk to the technicians directly," said Kevin Drew, president of Swift Diamond Rider Snowmobile Club of West Stewartstown.
The group is responsible for grooming and maintaining 120 miles of the state's snowmobile trails in the North Country.
The club depends on the $10,000 to $15,000 it gets from the SnoDeo each year to maintain and replace the three large groomers it uses for that task. Those machines can cost $200,000, Drew said.
The four major snowmobile manufacturers - Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha - all sent new sleds for visitors to look over and take out for test runs.
For a bit of nostalgia, several tents offered a look back at the slower, square-shaped machines of the past.
"This one looks like it's part boat," said Tanya Groves of Coventry, Conn., as she examined a 2000 Roamer Special.
"We're Ski-Doo fans," said Keith Isham of Hampden, Mass., as he and Josh Ayotte of Agawam, Mass., looked over the inner workings of one of that company's new engines. They went away impressed.
Wayne Campbell had one of the more unusual winter rides on display - his shiny, black 1926 Model T Ford, fully restored, but outfitted with skis on front where Henry Ford had once intended tires to be mounted.
"I've had it for seven or eight years. It was a junk when I got it in a barn in Monson (Maine). I take it to about half a dozen shows a year. People get a kick out of seeing the old stuff," Campbell said.
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