CAMDEN, Maine — The 22nd annual U.S. Toboggan Championships are ready to be launched this weekend at the Camden Snow Bowl.
Jeff Kuller, general manager of the Camden Snow Bow,l said that all the available slots were filled a couple of weeks ago, the earliest that has happened on record. There will be 425 teams participating with more than 1,000 participants in the event, which is the largest of the year for the recreation complex.
The first runs begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, although there will be activities for racers and nonracers alike throughout Camden starting on Friday.
The toboggan chute will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, weather permitting. The cost is $5 per person.
The tubing hill also will be open to the public, again weather permitting and again $5 per person.
A new addition to the event this year will be mechanical bulls. Kuller said he attended a conference for ski areas and heard about the draw of mechanical bulls.
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t that be great,’” Kuller said.
People can ride the bulls for fun or as part of a contest to see who can ride the longest.
The toboggan championships are the largest fund-raiser for the Snow Bowl, bringing in $40,000 to $60,000.
The event also generates money for the charities of the West Bay Rotary Club. The Rotary Club operates the annual chili and chowder challenge featuring food offerings from local restaurants and cooks. And there will be children’s activities put on by the Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland.
Kuller mentioned other benefits of the toboggan races.
“It’s outside, it’s fun, it’s physical,” he added.
On Saturday evening, there will be fireworks over Camden Harbor starting at 5:30 p.m.
From 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday there will be a dance at the Waterfall Events Center in the Knox Mill.
Kuller noted there will be signs in town to show people where they can park and shuttle buses will pick up people at one location this year — on the Washington Street side of the town office.
The toboggan championships have grown considerably from that first year, when there were only a dozen teams competing.
This year, the 425 teams will vie for trophies, bragging rights and the thrill of rushing 40 mph down the 400-foot-long chute.
The weather forecast so far is a good one for the races — below freezing temperatures with a chance of snow showers Saturday and partly cloudy on Sunday.