MADAWASKA — For anyone interested in snowmobiling and snowmobiles, Madawaska is the place to be this month.
With two back-to-back major sledding events, there will be plenty to see and do for everyone from recreational to professional riders.
On Friday, Feb. 4, the 2011 International Snowmobile Festival kicks off three days of cross-border riding and celebrations.
On Feb. 19, riders again converge on Madawaska vying for race points at the USCC Madawaska 100 Cross-Country Snowmobile Race hosted by the Madawaska Snowmobile Club at the Albert Farm Flats on U.S. Route 1 approximately three miles south of the Madawaska international bridge.
According to event organizers, this is the first time the club has put on a United States Cross Country snowmobile race, and they are looking forward to introducing racers to all that the area has to offer.
“The Madawaska Snowmobile Club is excited to put this event on for the communities along both sides of the St. John River Valley as well as for the sledders who will make the journey to participate in this first-time event ever for this area,” said Michael Guerrette, club president.
Based out of Minot, N.D., the USCC racing circuit is the largest cross country snowmobile racing organization in the country, drawing professional and amateur snowmobile racers from across North America to each of its events.
“There are several USCC class races open to racers,” Guerrette said. “Racers do not have to be season members because the USCC offers daily memberships on a prerace basis [but] daily members are not eligible for year-end point awards.”
Most USCC racers accumulate points throughout the season but the Madawaska race is open to all registrants looking to race alongside the professional sledders for a day.
Guerrette recommends anyone considering racing read and understand the USCC’s racing handbook.
Entry forms must be received by the USCC a week before the event and racers must have the legally required race gear and sled and may enter more than one race.
Races include pro, semi-pro, vets, masters, legends, expert, sports, women’s, juniors and vintage.
Gates open race day at Albert Farm Flats at 9 a.m. with races starting at 10 a.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. There will be food, beverages and hospitality tents available on site.
Before the racers arrive in the St. John Valley, trails leading in an out of Madawaska are hosting hundreds of riders from around the U.S. and Canada for the International Snowmobile Festival.
Festival registration kicks off 8 a.m. Friday at the Madawaska Knights of Columbus Hall, said Jean Ouellette, festival president. On the Canadian side, participants may register at the Quality Inn in Edmundston, New Brunswick, she added.
For the $30 registration fee, participants have three days of access to thousands of miles of trails spanning two countries.
The registration fee also includes access to Friday night’s spaghetti feed and dance at the Madawaska KC hall beginning at 6 p.m., drag racing at Club du Nord in Edmundston starting at 1 p.m. U.S. time, a breakfast Sunday starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Madawaska KC hall and a weekend long lucky run for prizes along the designated trails.
“This is definitely a good deal, no doubt about it,” Ouellette said. “This year we have four loops that are part of the festival and we’ve added a loop to Presque Isle.”
Those trails, Ouellette said, are ready for the influx of sledders, despite an unusually low snow pack.
“The trails are not bad for the amount of snow out there,” she said. “Our clubs do an awesome job with what they have.”
Ouellette said she went for a 50-mile ride last week and found conditions “really good.”
For more information about the International Snowmobile Festival or the USCC races, contact Ouellette at 207-728-3395 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; Guerrette at 207-728-7097 or by e-mail at email@example.com.