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Snowfest Acadie international snowmobile festival to bring thrills in March

ST. JOHN VALLEY, Maine — A leap across the St. John River by freestyle snowmobiler Brett Turcotte is one of the exciting highlights of this year’s Snowfest Acadie snowmobile festival, taking place March 15-18.

The British Columbia native is set to jump from the Fort Kent shore onto Kennedy Island, a distance of more than 200 feet, on March 16 as part of the festivities.

In January, Turcotte competed at the Winter X games in Aspen, Colorado, where he won a gold in the “freestyle snowmobile” category. It was his ninth X Games appearance.

For a second consecutive year, the international snowmobile festival will take place in the Acadia of the Lands and Forests region, with activities in various nearby locations in New Brunswick and Quebec, as well as in the St. John Valley on the U.S. side of the border.

“This second edition of Snowfest Acadie is promising to be quite an event for Acadia of Land and Forests and will be the biggest snowmobile festival East of the Great Lakes,” Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard said Tuesday. “We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

St. Agatha Town Manager Aubrie Michaud said, “I’m excited to see yet another event happening in our area that involves bringing people from various places within our country and its neighboring country together.

Madawaska Town Manager Gary Picard said Tuesday that he is “sure it will be beneficial for the region. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”

The Acadia of the Lands and Forests core leadership team, which formed following the 2014 World Acadian Congress and includes representation from both sides of the border, has been a key organizer and supporter of this year’s festival.

“It’s an opportunity to bring the three communities together,” said Lise Ouellette, chair of the leadership team.

Freestyle snowmobiler Brett Turcotte is scheduled to jump a snowmobile across a section of the St. John River from Fort Kent to Kennedy Island on March 16 as part this year’s Snowfest Acadie snowmobile festival, taking place March 15-18. (Google Maps)

The festival will feature snowmobile competitions certified by International Snowmobile Racing Inc., multiple vendors and various social gatherings.

Activities will be held throughout the region, including Mont Citadelle, Pohenegamook and Mont Biencourt in Quebec; Mont Farlagne, Edmundston, and Saint-Quentin in New Brunswick, and Fort Kent and St. Agatha in Maine.

Event tickets and full festival passports may be purchased at either the chambers of commerce offices in Madawaska or Fort Kent, or at the Tourism office in Edmundston.

“Being so close to the Canadian border, I’m hoping to see continued collaborative events which can boost both side’s economy,” said Aubrie.

“Tourism is an important aspect of economic development for our region. What a fantastic addition to the region’s events calendar,” Simard said.

Simard took part in a press conference on Monday at the Mont Farlagne outdoor center, during which organizers unveiled the full schedule of festival events.

In addition to the competitions and activities, organizers hope snowmobilers will take time to explore the many miles of groomed trails in both provinces and in Maine.

A multi-day snowmobile trail pass for non Maine residents is available for purchase at the Snowfest Acadie website.

The festival will feature a Manufacturers’ Village at Turgeon Stadium in Edmundston, where major snowmobile manufacturers and other equipment vendors will be on hand to reveal the 2019 models.

Those with a feel for the nostalgic will enjoy the antique snowmobile exhibition at Martin Small Equipment in Edmundston.

Snowfest also will feature some snowmobile competitions, including a 350-kilometer Three Borders Endurance Rally. Sledders can also compete in a hill climbing event at Mont Farlagne.

While snowmobiling is the focus of the festival, organizers are celebrating all types of winter recreation and the Fort Kent Outdoor Center is extending an invitation to all cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts to come out to explore the Nordic and biathlon facility and trails.

The annual Sucrerie, celebrating the maple syrup season, will take place at the University of Maine at Fort Kent on March 15. Other events include inflatable games and snow sculptures at Turgeon Stadium in Edmundston and a welcome reception at the Grey Rock Casino, also in Edmundston.

The New Brunswick government is a key partner in the development of the 2018 festival, according to organizers.

“Our government enthusiastically supports the core leadership team of the Acadia of the Lands and Forests with $30,000 for its second annual International Snowmobile Festival,” said New Brunswick Minister of Economic Development Francine Landry.

“This tourism event fits well with our economic growth plan and our tourism growth strategy.”

Prices for spectators range from $10 to $20 per event. A passport to all events is also available for $40. All funds are in Canadian dollars. The cost to take part in the snowmobiling competitions varies, and details about those and other Snowfest Acadie activities may be found at the event website at https://snowfestacadie.com/.

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