Snowpack was sparse Sunday but winter still made its presence known at day two of the Mayfield Community Winterfest.
It blustered and flurried and sent people chasing registration papers across the parking lot of Powerhouse Motor Sports, where a vintage snowmobile show, swap and ride was being held — the most well attended of the day’s events.
More than 30 spotless vintage sleds were on display in the muddy lot, their owners cradling cups of coffee in gloved hands while they talked bogie wheels and slide suspensions.
Show coordinator Aaron Miller, 53, has fond memories of riding vintage sleds when he was younger.
“We worked on them through the week, rode them on the weekend, busted them, put them back together through the week and that’s how it was, but it was fun,” he said.
Father and son Ron and Jamie Tribley of Northampton were lugging a 1972 Johnson Skee-Horse off their trailer. The sleek green- and-black sled with an orange seat is the product of roughly 200 hours of restoration work.
“It was in pretty rough shape,” Ron Tribley recalled. “Everything had to be stripped and sandblasted and repainted.”
Eight-year-old Daniel Middleton of Hudson Falls sat on the kid-sized 1973 Moto Ski Cadet snowmobile he had restored himself. Rosy cheeked, and warming his hands on a Thermos cover half-full of hot chocolate, he recalled how faded and dirty the sled was when he got it in 2011. With his parents’ help, he cleaned, painted and polished it until it gleamed bright orange.
He said he prefers his vintage ride to the fancy new snowmobiles.
“I like the old ones better than the new ones because they’re better built,” he explained.
Inside Powerhouse Motor Sports, the brand new snowmobiles for sale were sleek and state-of-the-art.
“We’ve been in business 28 years and when we first started out, a lot of stuff was steel skis and bogie wheels and now everything is Pro-Ride suspension and plastic skis — just a world of difference,” said owner Greg House. “They’re electronic fuel injected, [they have] hand warmers, thumb warmers, higher windshields for more protection from the weather, better shock packages. You just see very little to no problems compared to the old days.”
But the old snowmobiles huddled outside in the frigid parking lot have one feature the new ones don’t offer: nostalgia.
“I love the old stuff,” House commented. “It’s no different than like antique cars. It’s what you grew up with, so you still like to be around it.”
Wind on the lake
Down at Mayfield Lake, the wind roared relentlessly, sending ice fisherman William Pettit’s plastic chair cart-wheeling every time he stood up. With the chair safely secured beneath him, the Gloversville resident kept his eye on two tip-ups and two grandchildren: Jeremiah Pettit, 7 and Makala Blanchard, 6.
The kids worked together to twist an auger into the four- to six-inch-thick ice. They were too busy to talk much, but said once they hit water, they hoped to catch a tuna fish.
Not far away, on a bench near a shoveled-off skating rink, Kathy Warner of Mayfield helped granddaughter Brooke Sartin, 9, put on cross-country ski boots, while Shawna Hynd of Gloversville helped Warner’s other granddaughter, Alena Taylor, 11, lace up white figure skates.
“I promised my grandkids they could go skating today. It’s windy but it’s gorgeous out here,” Warner proclaimed.
Festivalgoers were few and far between at the lake on Sunday. Event organizer Carl Edwards proclaimed it too windy for volleyball and wasn’t holding out much hope that any participants would show up for the scheduled on-ice outhouse race.
Saturday was a different story though, he said. There was a well-attended snow box derby, during which kids raced sleds fashioned from cardboard boxes down a hill and out onto the ice. A girl’s and women’s frying pan toss had good participation, and eight people braved the polar dip, plunging into the lake’s frigid water by way of a large hole cut in the ice. A bonfire roared nearby, and an ice-fishing contest for kids 12 and under drew close to 50 participants.
Last year, when the festival debuted, only about 50 people attended the entire event. This year, Saturday’s festivities alone drew several hundred celebrants.
“We wanted to do something to get people out of the house,” Edwards said. “I want to make it bigger and bigger every year.”