by nicole a. elliott Sentinel staff writer

BOONVILLE — Anxious for Mother Nature to dump a few feet of snow within the next week or two, members of the executive committee of Boonville Snow Festival II remain hopeful sled races will go on as scheduled for Jan. 26-29.

Executive Committee First Vice-president David S. Ernst said the committee was meeting this evening to discuss its options.

"There have been no changes as of yet," said Ernst when asked if the races would be cancelled or postponed due to lack of snow. "It’s snowing in Boonville now and we’re hoping it dumps about 3 feet today alone."

Ernst said a final decision on whether to cancel or postpone the annual event won’t be made for another week or two.

"We will make no final decision until the week before," he said. "We still have high hopes that we’ll have enough snow by then."

The committee does have the option of making its own snow at the Oneida County Fairgrounds racing oval, but Ernst said that may be too costly an option.

"The big issue is that we could probably make snow, but it wasn’t in our initial plans and it’s an expensive proposition," he said.

Ernst said the race track is not a concern, but committee members are worried that if they had to make snow, they wouldn’t be able to produce enough white stuff for the spectators’ area.

"The spectator viewing is more of a problem than the race track," the first vice-president said.

The Boonville Snow Festival II already announced plans to host snocross racing along the ice oval at this year’s festival. The style of racing has never been featured in Boonville.

The East Coast SnoCross (ECS) racing organization, formerly Rock Maple racing, and New England based, sanctions championship points races each winter throughout the Northeast. There are classes for all ages and ability levels.

Also new this year is a class featuring "Outlaw" snowmobiles. An Outlaw sled is a cross between a dirt modified car and a snowmobile. The class will feature 600cc twin cylinder engines surrounded by a custom built chassis with a roll bar.

Boonville Snow Festival President Linda Bourgeois said the committee hopes to double attendance this year compared to last year’s 5,000 spectators.

Boonville native Christina Gates will be on the grounds exhibiting her sled dog team of purebred Siberian Huskies with demonstrations on both Saturday and Sunday, and the Adirondack Central School Junior Class will host a snowmobile-geared fashion show. There will also be Redneck Curling, snow sledding, snow sculptures and more.

Events will kick-off Thursday, Jan. 26 with "test and tune" practice runs on the ice oval track for Vintage and Pro racers in the afternoon. Vintage racing gets underway on Friday, Jan. 27 with the NNYVSR. Racer gates will open at 7 a.m. and will close infield access to all vehicles at 9 a.m. Spectator gates will open at 9 a.m. and the cost is $20 for adults. Vintage qualifying races will begin at 10 a.m. East Coast Snocross will practice under the lights.

Vintage racing continues on Saturday, Jan. 28 with the NNYVSR last chance qualifiers and finals. Racer gates to the infield will open at 7 a.m. and close at 9 a.m. sharp. Spectator gates will open at 9 a.m. and admission is $20. The NNYVSR Adirondack Cup race will take place tentatively at 3:15 p.m. ECS practice during the day with the main racing event under the lights, scheduled to begin after the Vintage Adirondack Cup Race.

The Eastern Pro Tour Circuit will tear up the track on Sunday, Jan. 29. The spectator gates will open at 9 a.m., and admission is $20. Spectators will watch the Eastern Pro Tour Circuit hit speeds of 100 mph on the half-mile ice oval track. The Eastern Pro Tour Adirondack Cup race will take place tentatively at 3:15 p.m. ECS racing will go on throughout the day.

And Boonville Snow Festival II is not the only major event in the North Country in danger of cancelling or postponing due to this year’s mild winter.

The fourth annual Adirondack Ice Bowl Pond Hockey Tournament in Inlet is also scheduled for Jan. 26-29 and some organizers and players are concerned that Fourth Lake won’t be frozen over enough to hold hundreds of skaters and spectators. It could not be learned if the tournament was going on as originally scheduled.