AUGUSTA, Maine — When the leaves start to fall from the trees, the Maine snowmobile community knows it's time to head to the Augusta Civic Center for the Maine Snowmobile Association's (MSA) Fall Snowmobile Show.
“After a year off, everybody needed this," MSA President Mike Grass said Saturday. “[People] can find anything they need, from snowmobiles to the gear that goes with them, trip planning, places to stay.”
On Saturday, October 23, the Civic Center was filled with dealers promoting new sleds, new apparel, and offering lodging options -- or, at least the few openings still available this winter.
“We booked up very quickly this year. We’re already starting to take reservations for 2023 as well," co-owner of the Rustic Retreat Lodge, Terri Williams, said.
The luxury lodge in Perham is relatively new to the snowmobile market. Williams and her husband are in their second year of owning the property -- and like most other places dedicated to winter lodging, they've seen spots get booked quickly.
“We’ve noticed a lot of people want to stay in bigger groups but don’t want to stay in a hotel environment," she noted. “We have some very limited availability this year.”'
Greg Morin and his brother own Shaker Hill Outdoors. The two grew up snowmobiling and decided to buy the property in Poland Spring and start the store.
Morin said the product supply line will be stressed across all dealers and outfitters this winter. The pandemic brought new life to outdoor recreation in Maine, which is great for local businesses when they have gear in stock.
“Be patient with the dealers, be patient with us -- our suppliers are doing the best we can. The stuff can only come in so fast," Morin said.
The three-day show ran all day Friday and Saturday. It will finish up from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Morin said the Friday crowd was busy, as folks looked to get the accessories or appeal they needed before the first big snowfall.
Located off of the showroom floor was a series of information sessions, hosted by the MSA. Trail-masters and local snowmobile club members were able to hear from a number of speakers about what they can expect from the upcoming season.
Grass said the thousands of miles of perfectly groomed trails around Maine aren't "magic" -- and credits the hardworking volunteers across the state who make Maine a premier riding destination.
"They spend all night grooming trails. They spend all fall getting ready building bridges, cutting brush, putting up signs to make that snowmobile trail appear for your pleasure," he said.
While snowmobile trails need at least a few inches of snow to open up for riders, ski mountains have already seen some flakes this fall. It won't be long before Sugarloaf can start making snow and opening trails.
“It’s that time of the year with the first snow on the ground -- it won’t be long now," Noelle Tuttle, the Marketing and Communications Manager for Sugarloaf said.
After a busy winter last year and a very busy summer at the mountain's golf course, Tuttle said she's expecting that momentum will continue this season. She said Sugarloaf is seeing a lot of folks buying early-season passes already.
Skiers or snowboarders can also expect new snow guns at the 'Loaf, which Tuttle said will help the snowmaking process on the upper mountain and open more terain early in the season.
Now, riders, skiers, and snowboarders across Maine can do one thing: wait for that first big snowfall.