FULTON, NY – Lake Neatahwanta’s frozen surface set the perfect scene for snow machine riders as The Great Eastern Whiteout drew sledders and admirers from across the region to Fulton on Saturday and Sunday.
The snowy white grounds of the Fulton War Memorial and adjacent frozen surface of Lake Neatahwanta became a sea of snowmobiles, trailers, vendors’ booths and people.
This was the 14th running of the annual event and Mike Schmid, trail coordinator for the Fulton Area Snow Travelers club, said it’s the first year the club has been able to have the Sunday race on the lake as scheduled.
“The ice on the lake is good enough,” he said. “It’s frozen and there’s plenty of ice. There’s a little bit of slush in spots which makes it a little tough but once the sleds run over it and expose the slush it freezes up. The hard part is finding the slush.”
Despite or because of the weekend’s sub-freezing temperatures the club reported Saturday’s events, which included a vintage sled show and swap meet, were a success.
“Although a bit on the cool side at 6 degrees below zero it turned into a sunny and bright day with plenty of show sleds, vendors, and spectators on hand to enjoy the show,” organizers said.
Sunday started with race registration at 8 a.m.
With temperatures hovering around 15 degrees, sunshine and no wind it was a great day for ice racing.
Event coordinators reported 75 drag racers were on hand to compete in the quarter-mile sprint and more than 30 vintage sleds registered to participate in the 100-mile Bun-Bun Enduro race.
As the racers geared up for their turn on the track the sound of sled engines and smell of cycle fuel filled the crisp air.
Hundreds of people lined the race venue but it wasn’t like a warm summer day at the lake where tank tops and shorts is normal attire.
As friends and family cheered on their favorite racers there wasn’t a bit of bare skin to be seen.
Snow-suited children played on lakeshore snow banks while snowmobilers young and old skimmed the frozen water on their machines.
Even before the day’s action on the ice began, 68 vintage sleds made the 30-mile jaunt across Lake Neatahwanta and back for breakfast at the Lysander fire station.
“There’s an old shack right on the edge of the lake,” Schmid said. “That’s where the trail goes in about a quarter mile then hits the county trail system.”
FAST is one of 10 Oswego County clubs which maintain and groom trails in Oswego County.
The Fulton area club has one 32-mile trail that extends west through Hannibal to Sterling.
Headed east from Fulton on the FAST trail snow machine riders can get to Central Square, Oneida County or head north to the Tug Hill region.
With all the recent snow and cold, the club advises that its trails are open and have been groomed several times over the last days in preparation for the Whiteout event.
“We will be sure to touch them up again in the next couple of days once we have had a chance to catch our breath,” a club spokesman said. “Please respect landowners’ rights. No ATVs or utility vehicles are allowed on club trails at any time of the year.”
The weekend event was also a charity fundraiser.
FAST announced first prize, a 1972 Boa-Ski R/T 440 donated by Paver 1, was won by Bonnie Morotti from Poland, NY.
Winner of the second prize, a Sno Cruiser tow behind sleigh was won by Sami Maalouf of Cazenovia, NY.
“Congratulations to both of our winners and thank you for all that supported this raffle which funds both the Spike Nolan and Everet Regal scholarships and other local charities. A special thanks to all of our sponsors and the city of Fulton for allowing us the use of their War Memorial grounds,” organizers said.