It was my first time at the Snowmobile Ice Drags sponsored by the Bonaparte Snowmobile/ATV Club and I have to admit it was a good time. Not only was the action fast-paced, but there were lots of people to talk to out on the lake while the competitors hurled forward in an effort to best their challenger to the finish line in the fastest time.
I was taken aback by how many people came to race and all the colorful snow machines and riders in attendance, as well as all the people that came to watch. Bonaparte Lake Resort was doing a box office business as people ate, drank and shared in the conversation while the races could be viewed from the large windows facing the lake. These are the kinds of events we need more of – things that bring people to the county even when the sun isn’t shining, although there was plenty of sun on Sunday.
Chris Branch, Oroville’s director of Community Development, was at the last Oroville Council meeting and was addressing just this point. Our region, especially once you get out of the Methow, tends to be geared to one season. Sure, there are winter activities, but we really rely on the our sunny Okanogan days to bring in the tourists. Branch said the director of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, the former head of Destination Osoyoos, suggested TOTA and the Okanogan County Tourism Council, combine forces to make us more than a one-season destination.
I’ve always admired the folks up in the Methow Valley for seeming to have something going on even in the winter, whether it be cross country skiing or snowshoe softball. We need to follow their example and remind people that we’re a great place to be even when it’s not hot out. Besides miles of great snowmobiling trails, there’s skiing at Sitzmark and Loup Loup and there are sno-parks for those that like to cross country ski. There must be more we can promote.
Back to what we know best, having fun in the sun, the Oroville Chamber listened to a presentation about hosting jet ski racing on Lake Osoyoos. Depending on getting the right date and finding the money to sponsor it, it sounds like a great idea. Roger Harnack, who made the presentation at the last chamber meeting, did a good job contrasting jet ski races and powerboat racing. Perhaps the most important point is it offers more of a chance for locals to participate in the actual racing, because, like snowmobiles, there are lots of folks who already own jet skis – while not too many of us have hydroplanes.