Snodeo time in Rangeley means it’s time for some great hot food, cool trails, thrilling races and some dicey nightlife.

Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club helps anchor the community’s place as a snowmobiler haven by coordinating its annual three-day Snodeo event, showcasing the area’s more than 150 groomed trails and drawing crowds to temporarily swell the normal 1,500-person winter population. This year the event took place from January 23 to January 25th.

The weekend kicked off early on Thursday with the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s 27th annual Chili/Chowder Cook-Off, a friendly cooking competition among area restaurants. The Gingerbread House, one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in the area, hosted the event, which featured more than a dozen samplings of chili and chowder for judges and comfort food enthusiasts to vote on.

This year’s chili winners were The Shed, for both the best overall and best medium; Furbish Brew House & Eats for best mild; and Bald Mountain Camps for best hot.The chowder winners were Parkside & Man for best overall and The Gingerbread House for best seafood.

Following the meal, a parade of cars drove the mile-and-a-half to Bald Mountain Camps Resort where the main dining room was transformed into a casino. A variety of casino games like blackjack and “Rangeley Craps,” along with a silent auction and raffle, helped raise both spirits and money for the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club.

Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Cheers rang out as the dice were thrown and winning cards dealt. Even after five hours, volunteer dealer Ashley Quimby was still smiling and seemingly having a blast along with her co-dealer for the “Rangeley Craps” table, Brad Stokes.

Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Friday night continued with high snowmobile enthusiasm at the Rangeley Lake Snowmobile Live Auction. Crowd favorite volunteer auctioneer Larry Koob has a way of keeping the bids high and the laughter continuous as he took full advantage of knowing the crowd and egging them on and calling them out by name. “Hey Gary, it’s only money!”

Brian Wargo refusing to put down his paddle until his wife Chris comes back from getting a drink. “I’m not sure what how high she wants me to go!” he laughed. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Large and spirited crowd at Moose Alley for Friday’s live fundraising auction. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Missy Wakefield and Mary Brey hold up matching moose sheds for live auction. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Items auctioned for bid were filled with homemade items like homemade olive bread donated by Marley Cerminara or handcrafted Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club corn hole sets donated by Bill Lemke. High-end items ranged from Morton & Furbish seasonal vacation rentals to a custom made Tactical Solutions AR-15, which fetched the highest bid of the night at $5,000.

From left Jonny Wakefield with volunteers Larry Koob and Tyler Philbrick successfully auctioning off the highest bid of the night, the customized AR 15 Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

On Saturday, the RAVE-X team, one of the most exciting events of the weekend, dazzled the crowd with some death-defying, “don’t-try-this-at-home” stunts with the hundreds of cheering spectators.

Thrilling stunts by member of the Rave X team. Jerri Koestner

Also on Saturday, Rock Maple XC Race & Tame the Track Tour was held at the Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airport where both children and adults were able to show off their snowmobiling skills while competing in some thrilling races.

These events just wouldn’t be possible without volunteers like Chris and Brian Wargo seen here braving the cold and manning the entry at Rock Maple Racing. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Leading contender turning the bend during the forty and over competition. Patrick Comeau of Nashua, New Hampshire, who works with Rock Maple Racing and was a former announcer, enjoyed watching his children racing miniature 120 snowmobiles.

“It’s fun,” Comeau said. “It’s all about them learning the safety of snowmobiling, understanding how much fun the sport is, and more importantly it’s getting families involved in racing, but also in snowmobiling. We all help each other. It’s a nice family atmosphere.”

Parents giving some last minute advice to their kids before the race.

Comeau said he enjoys travelling to all of the races in other parts of Maine as well as Vermont and New York, but added how much he enjoyed how special Rangeley is.

“We love coming up to Moose Alley and everything about Rangeley,” he said. “Rangeley, I always say, is the Killington of ski areas for snowmobiling. It’s the only thing that really has a night life when you go snowmobiling and there is not really another place in New England that has the snowmobile nightlife like Rangeley, Maine.”

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