Ultimate ATV Event revs up local economy

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Hundreds of ATVs were in the Star City over the weekend to take part in the Star City ATV Club’s annual Ultimate ATV Event from Friday, June 22, through Sunday, June 24, with participants from out of state and throughout Maine spending money at a number of local establishments.
    “We had approximately 500 machines, with nearly twice as many riders, on hand at one point Saturday,” said Bob Good, public relations director for the club.
The three-day weekend included several rides, a poker run, chicken barbecue, bon fires and more. To secure the site at the Park and Ride, Good said club members volunteered to sleep in their vehicles, taking shifts to ensure nothing got stolen or damaged.
“We had a refrigerated truck provided by Aroostook Beverage and ice to keep food cold that we had to keep an eye on,” said Good. “We also had ATVs – used for demonstrations – provided by Harry’s Motorsports and Dick’s ATV on hand that we had to look after.”
The Friday-night ride went well, with only one complaint, according to Good.
“There was a gentleman in his 70s who complained the ride was too fast, but other than that, everyone had a great time,” said Good, adding that light showers toward the end of last week kept dust down on area trails, making for more enjoyable riding conditions.
Saturday was the biggest and busiest day for the club. The day began with breakfast at the Park and Ride, followed by group rides incorporated into the poker run. As the start time approached at 10 a.m., riders lined up their bikes and headed off to Paul Cyr’s property off State Street Extension, where a group photo was scheduled to be taken.
“I’d like to thank Paul for providing us a place to get the photo, as well as providing us with a selection of photos from the event,” said Good. “The club works with him to maintain a beautiful trail through his property. We appreciate Paul and all the landowners that allow us access.”
The poker run took riders to Mars Hill and back, traveling by way of Easton. In all, four stops were made along the journey for participants to draw their poker hands, hosted by various organizations.
“The Big 13 ATV Club, of Mars Hill, handled the Mars Hill stop; The County Federal Credit Union hosted the Phair Junction stop; U.S. Cellular sponsored or stop at Ferris One Stop in Easton; and Wal-Mart hosted the second Easton stop. Wal-Mart also donated the use of folding tables, Paul provided some picnic tables, with the club came up with the remaining tables needed. SCATV Club members handled the Park and Ride – the fifth and final hand,” said Good. “Easton ATV was nice enough to let us use their Park and Ride.”
Winners of this year’s poker run include: first place, Ralph Donahue, of Mars Hill; second place, Ruth Hooper, of Massachusetts; third place, Nick Guy, of Blaine; fourth place, Joe Fierro, of Corinth, New York; and fifth place, Arnold York, of Presque Isle.
“Prizes totaling $1,150 were awarded during this year’s poker run,” said Good. “I thought with the size of the groups it would take a while to get through our stops, but at one stop I timed it and it only took about four and a half minutes for all the machines to get through. We had four people at each checkpoint dealing chips, so that helped it go faster.”
A power problem at the Park and Ride on Saturday was quickly addressed by a crew from Maine Public Service.
“They provided a pole and did some electrical work at the Park and Ride on Saturday,” said Good.
With a crowd averaging 300 people or more at a time, Good said quite a bit of food was sold over the three-day weekend.
“Over the weekend we went through 50 pounds of hotdogs, 130 pounds of hamburgers and 300 half chickens, as well as 150 breakfast sandwiches and a great deal of potatoes provided by Naturally Potatoes,” said Good.
Mike’s Market helped with the food, while Pizza Hut donated pizzas for the gathering.
Good said a number of area clubs were in attendance for the annual ATV bash.
“We had members from clubs including: Chapman, Easton, Big 13, Washburn and Van Buren. They were all impressed with the event,” said Good. “In addition to local clubs, we had clubs from southern Maine and out of state attend also.”
Riders reportedly attended from as far away as Oklahoma.
“We had participants from Oklahoma, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Georgia,” said Good.
Following the photo opportunity, riders split into two groups – a fast-paced group and a slower-paced one for those who wanted a more leisurely ride.
“There were over 100 machines in each group. It was a great day for a ride,” said Good. “Sunday’s ride had about 100 bikes.”
Friday night’s ride looped to Easton and back and was considered a good turnout. Saturday’s events had the largest turnout, with riders traveling to Mars Hill and back. And on Sunday, riders made the trek to Caribou and back.
“We had to check in at the border station in the Bridgewater area on Saturday. The gentleman working the station said he hadn’t seen that many ATVs in on function, nor had he ever seen that many snowmobiles. He was quite impressed with the number of machines,” said Good. “The Caribou Police Department provided us with an escort to get from one trail to the next on Sunday, which was much appreciated. Caribou ATV were gracious enough to provide water and snacks for us on Sunday.”
Good said the Presque Isle Police Department made its presence known as well, with one officer doing his share of community service at the event.
“Sgt. Joey Seeley, of the PIPD, patrolled the trails over the weekend and even tried his hand at barbecuing chicken for us. Folks visiting from downstate and out of state were impressed by the way the local police departments were so supportive of the club and ATV riders. At one point, some of the riders needed gas and were amazed when I asked Joey if we could go up the street to fuel up and he said to go ahead. The visitors weren’t used to seeing such cooperation from the police. In their communities they’d get a ticket for traveling a public road,” said Good.
For many participants from away, this wasn’t their first time taking part in SCATV Club activities.
“I come up a couple times a year,” said Joel Grandmason, of Cheshire, Connecticut, as he registered for the poker run.
Linda Whitman made the trip up from Milton Mills, New Hampshire.
“This is my first time up. I had fun Friday night. Look at me,” said Whitman, looking down at her muddy pant legs, “if you don’t get muddy, you don’t have fun.”
Whitman stopped for a photo op with fellow riders Roger Roy, of Acton; Ruth and Allen Hooper, of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
“This is my second time,” said Allen Hooper, noting he and Ruth planned to stay for festivities on Saturday and Sunday.
At least one couple brought one of their ‘children’ with them.
“Our dog, Teddy, enjoys riding,” said Beverly Domey, of Unity, as she pet her poodle who was secured in a basket on the back of her ATV.
“This is our first time up here. We’re looking forward to having fun,” said Domey’s husband, Ken Domey. “This is something we just might venture up to do again.”
Riders were in a generous mood on Saturday, donating both food and money to Catholic Charities of Maine.
“Catholic Charities collected a tote and a half of food, as well as monetary donations,” said Good. “We also had a canister for the March of Dimes that had over $100 in it by the end of the weekend.”
Saturday’s poker run, after purses were paid, resulted in the club making about $600. Hats and sweatshirts sold out and a number of T-shirts were special-ordered by riders over the weekend, according to Good. The official figures weren’t available yet on the breakdown for sales of food and merchandise, but Good said the club made out better than anticipated.
“We also picked up some new members too,” said Good.
The biggest problem noted this year were a few machines overheating. Good said plans are in the works to resolve that issue next year by having a pressure washer on hand. No injuries were reported and Good said he was pleased to announce that local law enforcement didn’t have any significant problems with the event either.
“Warden Alan Dudley joined the PIPD at one checkpoint on Friday. The officers told us if the rest of the weekend was anything like that night, there wouldn’t be any problems. That’s nice to hear, when you consider the number of machines and riders involved,” said Good. “The club is grateful for the support of local law enforcement. This is a team effort – officers and ATV clubs working together for the safety of all on the trail.”
According to Good, ATVs could be seen at local businesses throughout the weekend.
“Hotels and motels had trucks and trailers with machines. Local businesses had them parked in their parking lots, when riders shopped. This was a win-win situation for Presque Isle and our club,” said Good.
Good said none of it would have been possible without the many volunteers who made it possible.
“We had 30 to 40 volunteers. Some stayed all night for security reasons. A big thanks goes out to them all,” he said.
Plans are already under way for next year’s event.
“We’re discussing ways to change the rides to make it better. We’re open to suggestions. If anyone wants to contact the club, they can do so by visiting www.starcityatv.com; contact numbers for club officials are on the Web site,” said Good. “We’re looking forward to making this an annual event to remember.”