Page 36 - WCM 2022 Winter
P. 36

 Courtesy Shiretown Riders
Fresh tracks after the storm in the Farmington countryside.
years, but not this year; there’s no interest. So instead, we spend hours writing grants. It’s a $300,000 a year industry for Maine, built on the backs of volunteers.”
In fact, the University of Maine and the MSA released data from the 2018-19 season that showed the industry generated $459 million in direct spending
to Maine’s economy. Including indirect spending, snowmobiling generated more than $606 million dollars, and created 3,000 jobs.
The Shiretown Riders
The Shiretown Riders of Farmington gathered on Betsy and Steve Brady’s patio for a meeting. I was fortunate to be invited to learn their thoughts on the sport’s future. Steve owns Brady’s Snowmobile, and Betsy, the secretary of the club, is a teacher. Eric Ellis, VP, Scott Davis, trail master north, Galen Dalrymple, treasurer, and Brittany and Matt Fleury were also present.
Davis started the conversation. “When I was a kid, snowmobiling was a big thing. My first sled was a ‘66 Ski-Doo. I worked on it constantly, and that’s how
I ended up a mechanic! Back then, we did it all. We even cut the trails, mostly wherever we wanted, with a saw and axe.”
Ellis chimed in, “If you were a kid anxious to get away, snowmobiling was just the thing. In South Strong, we’d take off over Freeman Ridge to meet friends. It’s exhilarating.”
Dalrymple recalls his early days at Mt. Blue High School. “I grew up on a dirt road, and if you didn’t ski Titcomb or ice fish, there was nothing. The trail crossed my dad’s field, so I got an Elan 250. Gas was 25 cents a gallon, and life was good. Snowmobiling entertained me for days. We had 30 or 40 sleds in the baseball field, because kids rode them to school. Now, maybe you find two or three.”
Brittany Fleury adds, “ I had a Kitty Cat (an Arctic Cat for children) at the age of three or four. Riding it around in the yard is one of my earliest memories.”
Steve Brady explains that he and Betsy met at a snowmobiling event, and that they’ve ridden together ever since. He points out that his son-in-law, Matt Fleury “married into it.”
“It just grows,” Ellis adds.”Whatever town you’re in, you can take off!”
The lively recollections turn serious as Steve Brady explains the dire need for a trestle across Sandy River. “If you follow the old railroad bed you’ll see there was a trestle. It connected to the ITS on the Whistle Stop trail. A new trestle would connect us to Wilton and West Farmington. Without it, we’re only able to use local trails instead of the ITS.”
Others add that a connector would also allow travel to Stark, Anson, Solon, Jackman, and Greenville. “It would make Farmington a hot spot,” Dalrymple
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