RANGELEY — Snodeo, the area’s annual winter festival, will be held Thursday through Saturday this week.

The Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club hosts Snodeo 2012. The club has planned numerous activities, including two new events.

“We’re thrilled to see the new snow,” festival Co-chairman Mac Dudley said at the beginning of last Thursday’s storm. “The prediction is for 8 to 10 inches, and more tomorrow. Our trails already have a good base, and some of our teams have been out panning the trails to compact the surface.”

“There’s always something going on,” she added, “and we’re really excited about the new activities.”

New this year will be 120cc snowmobile rides in Oquossoc on Saturday. The brainchild of Oquossoc Marine’s Larry Koob, it is for kid-size snowmobiles and features its own course with many safety features.

The other new activity will be scenic ski plane flights over the lake and festival area provided by Acadian Seaplanes based in Rangeley. Pilot Keith Deschambeault of Acadian Seaplanes will be taking four passengers at a time from his pier on Town Cove. Cost for the 10-minute flight is $35.

Snodeo focuses on the importance of snowmobiling to Rangeley’s winter economy. The town and surrounding plantations delegate management and maintenance of the region’s 150 miles of trails to the club.

The celebration gets under way Thursday evening, Jan. 19, when the club hosts its fundraising Casino Night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Rangeley Inn. Casino Night features games of chance and an opportunity to meet and chat with other snowmobilers. That same evening, starting at 6 p.m., the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce hosts its Chili-Chowder Cook-Off at Bald Mountain Camps.

On Friday, Jan. 20, the Polaris Family Ride, with lunch to follow, begins at 10 a.m. at Oquossoc Marine. That evening, the Snodeo Welcome Party begins at 4 p.m. at Moose Alley (formerly the Club House) where the popular auction will be held at 7 p.m. with Larry Koob officiating. The 50/50 drawing occurs at 9 p.m., followed by music and dancing, as well as games and bowling.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, there is a Poker Run with cash prizes, a Radar Run on Rangeley Lake, Turkey Bowling, and food and displays at the Snodeo tent and all over town. That afternoon, during the Radar Run Awards ceremony, the club draws the winning raffle ticket for a 2012 Arctic Cat F5 snowmobile donated in part by Boss Power Sports and Arctic Cat. Raffle tickets are on sale.

Snodeo winds up with a snowmobile parade down Main Street and onto Rangeley Lake. A traditional feature of the parade is a contest for best decorated snowmobiles and snowmobile theme floats. A fireworks display sponsored by Atlas Pyrotechnics and Camp Do What You Wanna immediately follows the parade to provide the festival’s big finish.

In past years, Snodeo was primarily a fundraising event for the club. More recently, it has become a celebration of winter and a display of the world class snowmobiling opportunities in Rangeley.

This year Snodeo’s major sponsors are Budweiser, represented by Federal Distributors in Lewiston, and Rangeley’s newest recreational-services business, Camp Do What You Wanna. Many local businesses donate merchandise and discounted services, and assist with this event.

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