By Stephen King
This year will mark the 29th year for the Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show in Naubinway. As it was called, way back when. I know this for a fact because I was there when it was born.
At that time, I was on the Naubinway/Engadine Merchants Association. The forerunner of the Top of the Lake Communities Association. We were the group that put on events and such. Way back then, in the early fall, a couple of guys, Charlie Vallier and Tom King approached our group with an idea. They wanted to do an Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show.
I can remember that the group, myself included, did kind of a “you want to do a what?” We had never heard of such a thing. But, Charlie and Tom explained that collecting old snowmobiles was a growing hobby and wanted to give it a try.
I can then remember out next question: “How much will it cost us?” I don’t remember their answer. But, it was well within reason, and we gave it our blessing.
That first show was a limited success. But, enough of a success that we wanted to make it an annual event. A few years later, and it had grown. Many more collectors displaying their sleds. And, hundreds, if not thousands of people showing up.
I can remember at one show, trying to get some idea of how many people were there. All we came up with was “a lot.” You see, they were coming in cars. They were coming in sleds. Think a few might have even parachuted in. And, with no actual admission fee. We had no way to actually track numbers. But, for a while, we were getting really close to the 300 sled mark for the show.
Also, we added a ride. At first, it went to a local eatery. But, after only a year or two, we outgrew that. Then, we moved to the Town Hall. That was OK. But, in an effort to change things up and keep the show fresh, we moved the Breakfast to the Pavilion in Naubinway (The Naubinway Version of a Town Hall.) And, moved the ride to a lake about 10 miles north of town. (There is a cabin. A place to have a cookout. And, just a pretty place to ride to and hang out.)
In later years, we have also added in a few other things. Like, for those first few shows, Friday night was kind of a social thing. After the Breakfast Ride, everyone would kind of stay out and ride. At their own pace. But, we would end up at the motel in town, which Tom owned, and have a somewhat private party. Not really private. Not really advertised. A free fish fry. Naubinway is a commercial fishing town. We had fish.
But, a couple years back, some of the people wanted to do something different. So, now on Friday night, at about dark, the do a parade around town. Then, head out about 3 miles to a bridge over a local river. There, they have a bonfire and a lot of good conversation about old sleds.
Plus, a few years ago, the show added another ride. This one is kind of an invite-only thing. For the rear engine sleds. The ones that move at about five or six miles an hour. They go from Naubinway to Curtis, then to Newberry, then back to Naubinway. On a new sled, this is a cool afternoon loop. On the old rear engine sled… A three-day ride. Three legs. Three days. About 20 miles a leg.
But, after 28 years, this show is still one of the best in the State. And, being one of the first, it has that kind of prestige thing. Bragging rights thing. And, it is still a whole lot of fun.
Now, this year, with all of that Covid stuff, and the Governor trying to keep us locked up and “safe”, things are going to be a bit different.
On that, I talked to Charlie, and he said, “At the moment, we are on. The show and the ride will be OK. But, the dinner will not happen. That is usually at the Town Hall. But, we could not make that happen this year. Also, there will be no Breakfast, for the Breakfast Ride. That has been at the Pavilion in Naubinway for a few years now. And, that is not going to happen this year. Same reason. But, most of the other parts of the show will go on.”
He added, “Most of the show is outside. And, snowmobiling is very much a “social distancing” type of sport. Also, while we will be taking all of the precautions that we can, if you do not feel safe, then stay home. But, if you want, come on out and have some fun with us.”
Charlie also noted that while the Breakfast portion of the Breakfast Ride will not be taking place, the Ride will happen. Anybody interested in riding can gather at the Museum. (Or, actually, anyplace on the north side of US-2 in Naubinway. Things tend to be a bit informal.)
Charlie noted, “We will leave at about 11:00 a.m. We will be sending riders out in groups of 20. To keep with that Covid distancing rule. But, snowmobiling is a Social Distancing type of sport, to begin with. You have one or two people on a sled. Usually separated by a good distance.”
Charlie also notes, “We will again be heading out to Cranberry Lodge. There, we will be cooking up hot dogs, brats, and chicken on a stick. Just like always.”
He also added, “And, that night, we will still be having the bonfire. However, we will not be serving up any food. Courtesy of Covid. So, everyone will be on their own for finding food. But, all of the restaurants in town are gearing up for this. And, they are as ready as they can be.”