AMHERST, N.S. – When the Cumberland County Snowmobile Club held its first dream lottery four years ago, its members had no idea how successful it would be or the impact it would make on trails across the region.
“It’s amazing what this draw means for our club,” club member Brian Porter said. “It has allowed us to purchase these trail groomers and it has allowed us to maintain our trail system.”
Andrew Wallis, the club’s grooming and trail development coordinator, said the foundation for the draw was laid in a conversation he had with Amherst businessman and snowmobile enthusiast Mike Allen. He suggested selling 400 tickets at $100 apiece because it had been done in other places.
“I told him he was crazy, but thanked him for the free breakfast,” Wallis said. “Here we are four years later and it has been a sellout every year.”
Over the first three years, the lottery has raised approximately $60,000 with several thousand more coming from the live and silent auctions the night of the draw each year. Wallis said that money has mostly into paying for the trail groomers it uses on its trail systems across Cumberland County.
“With the first groomer we had a nine-year loan but we paid it off within three years,” Wallis said. “Then we had a surplus and the momentum and bought the groomer for Springhill. We’ll probably have that one paid off as well.”
The organization supports more than 400 kilometres of trail from the New Brunswick border to Oxford and to Bass River.
“When we have snow, we’re looking at $26,000 or $28,000 to maintain the trails,” Wallis said.
Wallis said the early snow is giving snowmobilers reason for optimism after several years of poor conditions. He doesn't remember snowmobiling in November since he moved to Amherst more than 25 years ago. While conditions haven’t been ideal, it’s allowing people to get out.
Carole Blenkhorn said the proceeds of the fundraiser supports the work of volunteers across the county and the snow makes everyone happy.
“I think there was only one day we were able to get out last year locally,” Blenkhorn said. “This early snow makes us very happy.”
This year’s draw and auction added another $23,000 with Darren Ibbitson of Fort Lawrence winning first price ($15,000 toward a Kia Rio, snowmobile or ATV), Tony Haines of Dartmouth winning second (a Kubota lawn tractor) and Tony Mitchell of Amherst winning third ($1,000 cash).
Other prize winners included: Barry Helm of Amherst (fourth - $500 gift card), Mark Casey of Amherst (fifth), Danny Bowser of Sackville, N.B. (sixth), Tm McSorley of Amherst (seventh) and Jason Coates of Amherst (eighth).
Fifth through eight prize winner received a 2019 early bird Snowmobile Association of Nova Scotia trail permit.
The Nova Scotia trial permit was won by Terri and Rick Pace, the New Brunswick permit was won by Greg Morash and Laura Holloway won the $255 50/50 draw.