NEWPORT – An icy storm Friday night may have kept some riders home, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of hundreds of snowmobilers and enthusiasts who turned out for the 35th annual Dead River Co. Pine Tree Ride-In in Greater Newport on Saturday.
The event began in 1974 and over the years has raised more than $3.3 million for Pine Tree Camp, a summer camp for Maine children and adults with disabilities. An exact total of money raised over the weekend had not yet been determined Sunday.
The funds raised by the state’s snowmobile clubs and brought to the ride-in awards ceremony each February help the Pine Tree Society provide free tuition for summer campers at its facility in Rome. This open-door policy has been in place since the Pine Tree Society opened the camp in 1945.
The weather was a factor in the radar run races, organizer Billy Sawyer said Sunday, but didn’t dampen the fun. Top speed on the 1,000-foot course was 131.9 mph, Sawyer said, about 10 mph less than last year.
“We couldn’t use the lake,” he said. “It was too slushy. The sleds had chewed it all up and then it froze. We had the races by Durham Bridge at the stream. We had it plowed just before the rain last week and it was real smooth.”
Sawyer said about 50 sleds participated in the races and “we had lots of spectators.”
“We generally get challenged by the weather,” Steve Galen of the Hungry Hollow ’76ers Snowmobile Club in Levant said Sunday. “But we always make do and get a good turnout.”
More than 200 people lined up for the all-you-can-eat breakfast, but Galen admitted the weather kept some people away.
More than 10 local businesses, vendors and restaurants donated all the items needed for the breakfast – eggs, bread, pancake mix, syrup, potatoes – and that way all profits can go directly to Pine Tree. This year, the club donated $533.56.
“There was quite a crowd” at the Ride-In Queen and Princess Pageant, organizer Marie Carter said Sunday. The event was held at the Sebasticook Valley Community Center and 12 girls entered.
Crowned Queen of the Ride-In was Victoria Clark, 9, of Bangor. Hannah Bradley, 3, of Dexter was selected as Princess, and Miss Congeniality went to Jenna Carey, 9, of Plymouth.
Other Ride-In events included an antiques appraisal fair, snowmobile parade, fireworks, chicken barbecue and public supper.