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Mowers raising money

ELLENBURG CENTER - Although Nathan LaBombard thinks people may see lawn mower races as just a "redneck gathering," the annual event is something that brings in needed funds to the Ellenburg Center Volunteer Fire Department.

The Northern New York Lawn Mower Races will be held at the fire station, Sunday, July 25, at 1 p.m. The event, which is in its fourth year, has brought out nearly 120 spectators in the past.

"[NNYLMR] actually charge their racers an entry fee and forward that money to the fire department," said LaBombard, who serves as rescue captain for the department.

A portion of the entry fee money is then used for trophies because "they race strictly for bragging rights," LaBombard explained.

NNYLMR, which is based in Malone, travels the North Country and raises money for local fire departments.

"We decided to have them come out here and give it a try," said LaBombard when he first heard of the group.

The races, which put approximately 15 people on the track at once, don't bring out your typical lawn mower.

"A couple of their mowers will do 96 miles an hour," LaBombard said. "It's just like a race car. You'll see crashes. You'll see people go off the track."

"But, we've never had anybody get hurt," he added.

LaBombard hopes the races draw people out, as the money is needed for training and equipment for the department.

"We run on a very limited tax budget," he said. "[The taxes] basically covers the trucks, station and most of our gear. But, [the money raised is] to further educate EMS personnel, and further train firemen."

The event, which will be held behind the fire station at 1 Church St., has a $5 entry fee. Food and nonalcoholic beverages will also be available.

"You'll never look at your mower the same," laughed LaBombard.

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