CAMDEN—For the last 29 years, costume-clad teams have waited with anticipation at the top of Camden Snow Bowl’s famed toboggan chute for the lever to be pulled and the platform to drop. At that moment, crowds cheer as the sled screams down the icy wooden toboggan chute and slides out onto Hosmer Pond.
This year, February 7 to 9, marks the 30th annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships and the moment everyone waits for has been captured on this year’s poster.
Members of the Camden Snow Bowl, where the event has always been held, had an artistic hand in creating this year’s poster.
For nearly a decade, Camden Snow Bowl Assistant Manager and U.S. Toboggan Nationals Championship Chairperson Holly Anderson has worked with Adventure Advertising in Rockport for poster designs. This year’s poster was designed and art directed by Adventure Advertising’s former owners Joe and Ginny Ryan.
“Ginny and I came up with the point of view perspective: taken from the top of the chute looking down rather than looking up the chute from the pond,” said Ryan. “I asked Ginny, Holly and Stuart [Young, chute master] to pose in the positions that I wanted. I then drafted the poster design using clips from photography that included the pond, surrounding mountains, Tobogganville, and spectators. It looks a little like a ransom note at this stage. Then, I worked with Patrica Bartkowiak, an illustrator from Buffalo, N.Y., to direct style, placement and color. We were inspired by vintage Norwegian winter travel posters.”
The history of the poster has taken all sorts of directions over the years, said Anderson.
“One of the earliest and iconic posters were Maine animals, a moose, a loon, and a bear on a toboggan,” she said. “Then, when Jeff Kuhler was here, he had connections to a Boston agency and they submitted three different poster designs, including the Grim Reaper riding on the back of a toboggan. Before then, we just made and sold posters as souvenirs. Today, the poster is actually the cover of the program. There were a few years where we did a contest and the winner of the contest designed the poster. But in the last few years, we’ve pretty much stuck with a scenic concept and an illustration.”
The Mayor of Tobogganville
Anderson, who has volunteered as co-chairman f the U.S. National Toboggan Championships meetings since 2005, cemented her role with the annual event when she joined the Camden Snow Bowl in 2017. One year a team mailed her a registration with the subtitle: “The Honorable Mayor of Tobogganville,” a moniker that has since stuck.
“I share this role with Stuart Young, chute master, who runs the mechanical stuff, the chute work, and we have a great committee who is the eyes and ears of the event,” said Anderson.
One thing she began to consistently notice on Ryan’s posters is a figure in a reddish-orange L.L. Bean parka with fur on the hood in the crowd.
“That’s me,” she said. “I have that exact jacket. If you look at the posters over the last five years, it became this ‘Where’s Waldo’ moment for me. I didn’t put it together for the longest time until this year, I looked back on all of these past posters and asked Joe, ‘Did you put me in there this year again?” And he said, ‘Duh.’”
The 2020 poster features The Big Kahoonas, a four-person toboggan team, which has been part of the Toboggan Championships for the last 29 years and qualifies for The Worlds race this year. This is a one-run, winner takes all race.
“We chose to feature them because they’ve been racing forever, and we thought it would be fitting to feature them for the 30th anniversary poster.”
Stay tuned for our forthcoming story: “You gotta have brass ones to hang with The Big Kahoonas.”
For more information on the Camden Snow Bowl’s U.S. National Toboggan Championships visit Camden Snow Bowl
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org