Vintage snowmobiles will be on display at the Penobscot Snowmobile Club's Antique Pit Stop during the Pine Tree Ride-In on Saturday, Feb. 2. Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Jackson

Since its origination in 1974, Maine snowmobilers have staged a “Ride-In” in support of Pine Tree Camp, which serves children and adults with disabilities.

Over that time, the event, now called the Dysart’s Snowmobile Ride-In, has raised $3.7 million in that effort. One of the key pieces of the day’s festivities has been an egg ride, during which “celebrity” snowmobilers stuff eggs in their suits before hitting the trails. Each egg represents $50 in donations, and the ride is organized by radio station Q106.5.

This year, the venerable fundraiser will feature a few new wrinkles, chief among them a change in venue. Riders and supporters will still head to the Hungry Hollow 76ers Snowmobile Club in Levant to kick off the ride beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.

Once there, they will be able to take part in a silent auction. And after egg riders and others saddle up for the snowmobile parade, they will head to Dysart’s in Hermon, where a lunch will be served. Traditionally, riders have ridden from Levant to Newport.

Also new this year, the Penobscot Snowmobile Club of Hermon is staging its popular vintage sled show in conjunction with the Ride-In, and attendees will get to see a number of antique snowmobiles when they head to Dysart’s in Hermon.

Byron Ogden, the trailmaster of the Penobscot Snowmobile Club, said the show is a spinoff of one of his club’s annual offerings.

“We’ve always had a vintage show and ride when possible at the clubhouse, for a number of years now. We’d sometimes have 100 sleds,” Ogden said. “They all line up in a big circle around the club. One year, we had to truck snow in so they could. They enjoy standing around and showing everybody their machines.”

Ogden said club officials began brainstorming and thought combining the Ride-In with the vintage sled show could jumpstart the fundraiser, which had begun to show signs of its age.

“So, we said, ‘You know what? If we combine both, it should draw more people, and it should benefit the Egg Run and it should benefit us, too,’” Ogden said.

Erin Rice, chief development officer of the Pine Tree Society, said the event provides crucial funding each year.

“This event is critical to Pine Tree Camp. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised go directly to Pine Tree Camp’s Campership fund ensuring that all campers are able to attend regardless of their ability to pay tuition,” Rice said. “This open-door policy has been in place since Pine Tree Camp opened its gates in 1945.”

Saturday’s schedule kicks off with the breakfast at the Hungry Hollow 76ers Snowmobile Club off Horseback Road in Levant.

The Egg Ride sledders will depart at 9 a.m. The vintage snowmobile pit stop will begin at 9 a.m. and run until 2 p.m. at the Penobscot Snowmobile Club in Hermon. Egg ride participants are expected to arrive at the Hermon club at 10:30 a.m., then head out again a half-hour later, with some of the vintage sleds, bound for Dysart’s.

A community lunch will be staged at Dysart’s from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

The Carmel Snowmobile Club is also involved in promoting and hosting this year’s event, Ogden said.

Come summer, Pine Tree campers will again be able to enjoy the benefits that the Ride-In help provide.

“As our campers drive down Pine Tree Camp’s dirt road, they enter a world that is completely barrier free,” Rice said. “They are able to immerse in every aspect of the outdoors, participating in activities like kayaking, exploring nature trails, fishing, swimming and camping overnight in a real tent.”

For some, the experiences are entirely new.

“At the same time, campers experience the feeling of connectedness. They make friends, sometimes for the first time,” Rice said. “They don’t feel different. They are one of the gang, and during their stay, their families benefit from respite knowing their loved one is safe and having fun. For so many caregivers, it’s the only break they get all year long.”

Avatar photo

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...