While commuters and shovelers may complain about all the snow this year, it is like pennies from heaven — or more like silver dollars — for Maine snowmobilers and the businesses that rely on them.

“Much of Maine has gotten copious amounts of snow. It has people really energized,” said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. “It is great for snowmobiling statewide when you have outstanding conditions in York and Cumberland counties. Everybody goes out and registers their sleds and gets out on the trail. It really does have a ‘snowball effect.’“

As always, before hitting any trail, check out conditions in the area by calling a local club or visiting its website.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

A new snowmobiling brochure produced by the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Snowmobile Association is making its national debut this weekend at the Boston Globe Travel Show.

“It is a fun activity, and businesses have reported to us that the snowmobiling market is expanding to include more families and couples,” said Carolann Ouellette, deputy director of the tourism office.

After Boston, the brochure will make an appearance at the New York Times Travel Show (Feb. 25-27) and the Montreal Sportsmen’s Show (Feb. 24-27).

Brochures have been mailed out to nonresidents who have snowmobiles registered in Maine, and those who visit the Maine tourism website (www.visitmaine.com) can request one.

“Maine is the place to snowmobile, because of the number of miles of trails, the trail conditions and the scenery,” said Ouellette.

With 14,500 miles of trails, Maine has more trails than any of the New England states, New York or Pennsylvania.

POLARIS ANNIVERSARY RIDE

History will repeat itself, when about a dozen rugged snowmobilers take part in a re-enactment of a journey that took place 50 years ago in the challenging conditions of the Allagash wilderness.

The purpose of the original ride in 1961 was to determine if the Polaris Sno-Traveler, made on the prairie of Minnesota, could tackle the mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather conditions of northern Maine.

The 50th anniversary ride will take place during Millinocket’s Winterfest, Feb. 18-26. A highlight of the festival is a snowmobile parade through the downtown on Feb. 18, followed by fireworks, an antique snowmobile show and rides on Saturday, along with an ice fishing derby, poker run and other events.

The three-day historical snowmobile trip will get under way at 8 a.m. Feb. 20, depending on weather conditions. The group making the trip will use vintage sleds, including two Sno-Travelers used in the original trip.

David Johnson, age 88, is a co-founder of Polaris and will take part in the ride. Johnson is known for making the first Polaris snowmobile.

Steve Campbell, whose father Earlan (“EB”) Campbell was on the 1961 trip, is the organizer of the anniversary ride. Campbell also organized and took part in the first re-enactment ride in 1985.

“This is really putting Millinocket on the map. We became a real snowmobile destination after 1985,” said Campbell. “The trip in 1985 was a real blast from the past. We all wore the same clothing and used the same machines as they did in 1961. On that trip we started from Millinocket and it took two days to get to Chamberlain Lake. You can do that on a modern sled in four hours.”

That first Maine test ride was the birth of snowmobiling as we know it today. Polaris continued the test rides over the years, making improvements to sleds so they could handle rugged terrain and brutal weather conditions.

For more information on Winterfest, visit www.katahdinmaine.com/area-festivals/winterfest-2011.html or call the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce at 723-4443.

Cathy Genthner is a registered Maine Guide licensed to guide snowmobile trips. She owns River Bluff Camps in Medford, located off ITS-83. She can be reached at:

[email protected]