Annual Snodeo in Stewartstown draws good crowd, many vendors
STEWARTSTOWN - For just a little while, this tiny Coos County town quadrupled its population by attracting nearly 5,000 visitors - many of whom rode in from the nearby, extensive snowmobile trail system - for the 22nd annual Swift Diamond Riders' Snodeo.
One of the top snowmobile events in the Northeast, the Snodeo was held Friday Saturday on Little Diamond Pond in Coleman State Park. It featured performances by the Rave X Freestyle team; exhibits of vintage snowmobiles; food and drink; helicopter rides; and the chance to tear your snowmachine down an eighth of a mile track in the Camoplast Radar Ruins, possibly hitting three-digit speeds.
And, of course, there were snowmobile demos of 2014 and 2015 models from Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat, Yamaha, and, for the first time, Phantom, which bills itself as the maker of mid-sized sleds that are perfect for families.
The primary fundraiser for the Swift Diamond Riders, a group that maintains about 100 miles of trails and must replace approximately $200,000 worth of equipment, groomers and drags every four years, Snodeo was started as an informal event in 1993 by Lloyd Drew and Robert Anderson.
The men neighbors on nearby Big Diamond Lake, got to talking and Anderson, who was a representative for Ski-Doo, agreed to bring some of the newest sleds to the lake for fellow riders to try. In quick order, the trailside happening grew so much that it was moved to Coleman State Park.Kevin Drew, who is Lloyd's son, chaired the 2014 Snodeo and proclaimed it a success."We are very pleased with the results," said Drew. "The temperatures stayed down, and that was good for the snowmobilers" and for spectators, he said.
Drew, who is from North Conway but has had a vacation home on Big Diamond Lake for 30 years, estimated that about 1,300 people came out for the opening of the Snodeo on Friday and more than 3,000 attended on Saturday for its conclusion. He estimated about 60 percent of them rode in.
In addition to spectators being happy, Drew added that the manufacturer's representatives were also smiling, pleased by the attendance and the positive response to their products.
"We're already discussing next year," said Drew, who acknowledged that while the attendance was good, it has been better.
"Ten years ago we had almost 9,000 people," Drew said, quickly noting that, in his opinion, the numbers are down for one, specific reason: "I think the economy's had a lot to do with it but we'll take this. It's a good crowd."
Drew thanked the more than 50 Swift Diamond Riders club members who volunteered their time to work Snodeo and the manufacturers and all the exhibitors, as well as New Hampshire National Guard, which again came to Little Diamond Pond with a mess tent and equipment that this year included a mobile missile battery.
Several guardsmen maintained a safety perimeter around the Rave X performance, which featured riders doing a variety of tricks on their sleds. "This has always been a family event promoting safe snowmobiling," said Drew, who paused to watch a Rave Xer do something that only a professional should ever attempt.