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Kite rally to sail in February in Lewis County

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PINCKNEY — An event that has brought snowkite enthusiasts from across the Northeast to the Tug Hill region, but was canceled last year, is expected to go off without a hitch in February.

“We’re still in the planning stages right now ... but we’re looking at having it Feb. 15 to 17,” Lewis County Recreational Trail Coordinator Jacqueline L. Mahoney said.

The Tug Hill Snowkite Rally was held every year from 2007 to 2012. Last year, in the absence of a trail coordinator, the event went unorganized. Former trail coordinator Robert C. Diehl had been suspended following allegations of criminal behavior, including third-degree grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and official misconduct.

Snowkiting combines snowboarding or skiing with a kite. Similar to kitesurfing on water, snowkiters glide across snow or ice. The rally will not be competitive.

This year’s event is scheduled to take place at Deer River Ranch, 1414 Route 177. The exact details have yet to be worked out, but co-organizer Jean Dunoyer said organizers hope to have several days’ worth of extreme weather. The windier, the better, said Mr. Dunoyer, who is involved with a snowkiting group out of Massachusetts, www.MASSkiting.com.

“We look at 2013 as kind of a hiatus,” Mr. Dunoyer said. “In 2012, we had quite a successful event, a lot of participation from snowkite manufacturing companies.”

The event had a record turnout in 2012, recording more snowkite manufacturers and snowkiters than previous years.

The hope had been to mark the Tug Hill Snowkiting Rally as the only Northeast stop on the North American Snowkite Tour last year, but the hiatus put an end to that.

However, organizers hope that the tempting pull of Tug Hill will bring people out.

“We like to come up there and put Lowville and Lewis County on the map as a destination for this unique recreational sport,” he said. “You have more snow, more wind, more open fields; it’s a cut above anywhere else.”

“Tug Hill has the potential of being the big kite area of the east,” rally founder Jan J. Brabant added. “The rally gives diversity. Rather than mainly the snowmobile crowd hauling in, here’s another crowd that can bring people in.”

Mr. Dunoyer said they also would like to establish a raffle, with proceeds benefiting a Lewis County charity.

“When we come to a place, we like that to be a positive experience and we like to give something back,” he said.

There will be no charge to attend the event.

To stay updated on additional details as they become available, visit the event’s website at www.tughillsnowkiting.com.

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