Fun In The … Snow

STOCKTON – Hundreds of snowmobiles littered the grounds of the Chautauqua County Fireman’s Fraternity in Stockton on Sunday afternoon for their annual ride-in.

Always held the Sunday before Presidents Day, and sponsored by the five snowmobile clubs of Chautauqua County, the event propagates a free get-together as well as promoting restaurants along the snowmobile route in “A Taste of Chautauqua Trails.”

“What that is, is contributions from many of the restaurants and taverns and different spots along the trail,” said Ray Head, president of the Chautauqua County Snowmobile Club Federation. He gestured around the room to the different foods being provided – from chili to goulash – provided by local eateries. “… We have a lot of the restaurants around the trails, all benefiting from the snowmobiling going on.”

The clubs meet the Tuesday before the event to determine if they will do it. If there isn’t enough snow for the people to ride-in on their snowmobiles, the event is canceled.

The ride-in started seven to eight years ago, and serves as a “thank-you” to the snowmobilers who buy registration, which in turn helps the clubs take care of the hundreds of miles of trails.

“We just got kind of an idea that each club does a little bit of what this is,” Head said. “For instance, the Cherry Creek Sno-Goers bring the meat. Mayville brings all the pop. Ellery buys all the things that are needed to make the thing work as far as garbage bags, plates and all that kind of stuff. Sunset brings all the desserts, takes care of the coffee and chocolate and everything. Lake Effect brings all the rolls and cheese and that stuff for the burgers.”

Snowmobiling is widely enjoyed as an outdoor family recreational activity during the winter. After taking a snowmobile safety course, children over the age of 10 can ride with or near their parents until the age of 14, where they are able to ride the sled themselves.