CAMDEN — The ice is clear on Hosmer Pond, the chute is primed, and Fitzy has been out with the Nordic track groomer, smoothing out the bumps at the bottom of the hill where hundreds of toboggans will soon be hurtling forward at record speed during the 24th Annual Toboggan Nationals. It’s all hands on deck in Camden, where a committed group of volunteers and staff at the Camden Snow Bowl are getting ready for the annual event, which draws thousands of spectators to the region, beginning Friday, Feb. 7.
The chute was tested Friday, Jan. 31, at media day, when reporters and cameramen climbed aboard sleds to fly down toward the pond and get a sense of the wild ride.
New this year is the option for some teams to take their first official runs Friday, Feb. 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. The toboggan chute will be open to the public and for racers to take practice runs Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The chute will be shut and evaluated and official timing turned on, with 2-person and 3-person teams having the option to take their first run when it opens back up at 4 p.m.
Down the Chute Beer and Wine Tasting, will take place Friday, Feb. 7, from 3 to 7 p.m. This is the first year West Bay Rotary Club’s Down the Chute event will be held during toboggan weekend, having been canceled due to the blizzard last year. A ticket will get you a souvenir glass that can be used to taste at least a dozen beers and wines from Maine breweries and wineries. Entry also earns a raffle ticket for some great donated prizes.
Some toboggan weekend tips
Parking is limited at the Snow Bowl, so racers and spectators are encouraged to carpool and take the shuttle bus. For $2, get a ride to the Snow Bowl and a free ride back to town. Three buses will run continually Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to bring people to and from the pickup spot on Elm Street alongside the Village Green. NEW: Look for the shuttle bus shed! (No pets allowed)
The Camden Select Board has graciously agreed to judge the costume contest, which will be judged during a costume parade through Tobogganville from noon to 1 p.m. All costumed racers should be sure and join the parade, with awards for First Place Costume, Second Place Costume and Third Place Costume awards.
The mechanical bull will be back all day Saturday to challenge budding bucking bronc riders.
There are still a few more racing slots available, so get your registrations in now!
Leave your furry friends at home. Tobogganville will be super fun next weekend, but it’s icy and crowded and hectic and noisy and scary for pets. So do your dog a favor and leave them at home. (If your dog is nuts and really loves this kind of thing, they must remain on leash at all times.)
Unless we get some snow in the next week, prepare for icy conditions. That means invest in a pair of ice spikes for your boots. There are many brands available for sale at Maine Sport and Reny’s, among others. Trust us, you’ll have a much better time wandering around next weekend if you have some sturdy gear on your feet.