St. John Valley

Snowfest Acadie a success despite challenges, CLT says

EDMUNDSTON, New Brunswick — The Core Leadership Team of Acadia of the Lands and Forests presented March 20 a positive outlook on the International Snowmobile Festival, or Snowfest Acadie, despite some challenges.

The festival was held March 15-18. Trails and tourist sites throughout the region registered strong snowmobilers’ attendance. While the region already registered good snowpack, an abundant snowfall just prior to the festival created ideal conditions for snowmobiling.

For climatic and security reasons, the international snowmobile jump had to be replaced by freestyle jumps. The Haut-Madawaska community hosted the X-Games double gold medallist, Brett Turcotte, who clearly awed attendees with spectacular acrobatic jumps. The Mont Farlagne Sled Peak hill climb also attracted 40 competitors who offered, despite the cold and windy conditions, impressive performances.  

Among other activities, artisans attempted to create an ice carousel in St-Agatha, and in Saint-Quentin, the Maple Festival, celebrating its 15th anniversary, also benefited from its partnership with the Snowmobile Festival.

“The teamwork and dedication within the various communities and associations have greatly contributed to the success of the activities and confirms the positive economical impact and community building potential of this white gold,” said Lise Ouellette, president of the Core Leadership Team.  

The festival did, however, face important challenges. The New Brunswick Snowmobile Federation rejected the request for a special permit to allow free access to the trails, and the Quebec Federation decided similarly, creating hardship. Only Maine granted free access to its trails for the festival. Therefore, the festival could not benefit from a very important recreational snowmobiling infrastructure: the trails. That decision forced organizers to focus on more expensive off-trail activities, which presented difficult financial challenges.

Those challenges prompted organizers to cancel the Endurance Rally in Pohénégamook, Quebec, as the number of participants was not enough to ensure self-sufficiency of the event.

“We are well aware and sorry for the inconveniences caused to the participants who had registered in the Rally, and the Snowfest organization will of course reimburse the registration fees,” said Ouellette.

The Core Leadership Team will reassess the viability of a transboundary snowmobile event.

“We do understand that it is not realistic to ask visitors to purchase a snowmobile pass for each jurisdiction, in addition to the Festival passport,” Ouellette said. “In collaboration with snowmobile clubs and other regional partners, we will undertake discussions to have the transboundary nature of our region recognized as an important economic asset, requiring adjustments by provincial and state authorities to realize its full potential.”

The CLT will carry out a more in-depth assessment.

“The objective of the Core Leadership team has always been to pass the organisation of the Festival to a dedicated organisation which would ensure its viability for future years. If we can overcome the current barriers, we still believe in the economic, social and cultural potential of this Festival,” Ouellette added.

Organizers will make a final decision as to the 2019 edition and notify the public before the coming summer.

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