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Thursday, 22 March 2018 16:27

The international Snowmobile Festival – Positive results despite challenges

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Sled Peak Sled Peak Photo Credit: Ch. Dandurand

The Core Leadership Team of Acadia of the Lands and Forests presents a positive outlook of the International Snowmobile Festival, despite important challenges. Promoted as Snowfest Acadie, the Festival was held from March 15 to March 18. 

The trails and touristic sites throughout the region have registered very strong snowmobilers’ attendance. While the region already registered a very good snow accumulation, an abundant snow fall just prior to the Festival created ideal conditions for snowmobiling.

For climatic and security reasons, the International snowmobile jump had to be replaced by Free Style jumps. The Haut-Madawaska community greatly hosted the X-Games double gold medallist, Brett Turcotte, who clearly outjawed the attendance with spectacular acrobatic jumps. The Mont Farlagne Sled Peak hill climb also attracted fourty competitors who offered, despite the cold and windy conditions, impressive performances. 

Among other activities, the Ice Carrousel in St-Agatha is certainly worth to be raised.  Despite a very thick layer of ice and cold weather during Saturday night, many committed and skilled artisans succeeded to get the ice carroussel in motion. In Saint-Quentin, the Maple Festival, celebrating its 15th anniversary, also benefited from its partnership with the Snowmobile Festival.

«The teamwork and dedication within the various communities and associations have greatly contributed to the success of the activities and confirms the positive economical impact and community building potential of this White gold», according to Lise Ouellette, president of the Core Leadership team. 

A shadow on the Festival

The organization of the Festival has however faced important challenges. The New Brunswick Snowmobile Federation has rejected the request for a special permit to allow free access to the trails, the Quebec Federation also deciding to follow the New Brunswick decision, creating significant hardship. Only Maine has granted free access to its trails for the Festival. Therefore, the festival could not benefit from a very important recreational snowmobiling infrastructure: the trails. That decision forced the organizers to focus the programming of the event on off-trails activities. As such activities involved significantly higher costs, the Festival has faced very difficult financial challenges.

These financial challenges have forced the organizers to take the difficult decision to cancel the Endurance Rally in Pohénégamook QC, as the number of participants was not enough to ensure self sufficiency of the event. “We are well aware and sorry for the inconveniences caused to the participants who had registered in the Rally, and the Snowfest organization will of course reimburse the registration fees”, mentioned Mrs Ouellette.

The challenges faced following the decision of the Federations of Snowmobile Clubs will force the Core Leadership Team to reassess the viability of a transboundary snowmobile event. “ We do understand that it is not realistic to ask visitors to purchase a snowmobile pass for each jurisdiction, in addition to the Festival passport. In collaboration with snowmobile clubs and other regional partners, we will undertake discussions to have the transboundary nature of our region recognized as an important economic asset, requiring adjustments by provincial and state authorities to realize its full potential”.

The Core Leadership Team will carry out a more in-depth assessment of the last two year experience of the Festival. Convinced of the potential of this event and at the regional citizen’s request, the Festival which had existed until 2010, was revived under the initiative of our organization. The objective of the Core Leadership team has always been to pass the organisation of the Festival to a dedicated organisation which would ensure its viability for future years. If we can overcome the current barriers, we still believe in the economic, social and cultural potential of this Festival.

A final decision as to the 2019 edition and organizers of the Festival will be made public before the summer of 2018.

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Mission: Stimuler et faciliter la collaboration régionale pour assurer le développement économique durable de l'Acadie des terres et forêts.

       




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