CARIBOU, Maine — With thousands likely to flock to Caribou this weekend, the city hopes to turn its inaugural SnowBowl festival into an annual event.
From Thursday to Sunday, snowmobile racers, stunt drivers and riders will come together for a busy lineup of events and activities, including Aroostook’s first snowmobile stunt show.
It’s all designed to bring a major economic boost to the region, which already sees hundreds of snowmobilers every year, said event organizer Troy Haney. Aroostook has 2,300 miles of snowmobile trails, and tourists travel from all over New England and beyond to ride and spend money in the region.
All local hotels and cabin rentals within Caribou, Limestone and Presque Isle are sold out for the SnowBowl weekend, Haney said. With the area’s hotel shortage, people have been seeking out Airbnbs and other lodging options.
“It’s hard to tell how many people will come because it’s our first event, but we’re hoping for at least a few thousand,” Haney said.
With most lodging businesses booked, Haney and organizers have shifted their focus toward getting the word out locally. They’ve secured more than 60 local sponsors, he said.
A kickoff party will start at 6 p.m. Thursday at Evergreen Lanes and Rendezvous Restaurant at 60 Access Highway. Maine Senate President Troy Jackson and representatives from U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s and U.S. Sen. Angus King’s offices are expected to attend, Haney said.
The next day, people can take part in a guided snowmobile tour of the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, starting at 10 a.m. Friday at the Caribou Park & Ride. From there, the group will meet at Loring’s arch hangar for a chicken stew and hot dog lunch before riding along the Canadian border to Van Buren and back to Caribou.
Two days of Northeast SnoCross races will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Spud Speedway track.
Northeast SnoCross is a snowmobile race series that opened a track in Naples in late 2022, and has since lined up races in southern Maine and New York. Racers from as far as New York will travel north for the SnowBowl.
During the SnoCross races, local trail groomers will compete in an obstacle course at Spud Speedway from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Free monster truck rides atop Moose Maine-iah of Danforth will occur from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Spud Speedway. Local clothing and food vendors will be available throughout the festivities.
Following the races, a snowmobile parade will travel down Main Street starting at 4 p.m. Saturday.
A “sledabration” is open to everyone from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday outside the Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center. The area of Bennett Drive just outside the rec center will be closed at 4 p.m.
Food and drink vendors, live music from Keith Ouellette and indoor bounce houses will be available before the Rave X stunt show begins at 7 p.m. Saturday
Rave X is a South Portland-based company with a retail store and stunt tour that books shows nationwide. The Caribou show will feature at least two Canadian riders making their Aroostook debut. A massive 16-by-9-foot TV screen will be on site for anyone unable to watch the stunt show up close, Haney said.
A fireworks show will close out the Saturday events around 8:30 or 9 p.m.
On Sunday, the SnowBowl Poker Run will leave Spud Speedway at 8 a.m. and make stops at snowmobile clubs in Washburn, Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield and Limestone. The Poker Run grand prize will be $2,500 while second- and third-place winners will receive $1,000 and $500, respectively.
With snowmobile season soon drawing to a close, Haney hopes the SnowBowl can become the next big way for Aroostook to celebrate winter.
“This is the time of year when people start to get cabin fever and look forward to spring,” he said. “[The SnowBowl] is an excuse to get outside and see people who we haven’t seen in a while.”