The annual Guy Fawkes Rally in upstate New York (near Cooperstown) is one of the last northeast Land Rover events of the year before the Christmas season kicks into full swing. It's a small, traditional Land Rover bash, with friendly faces, varied trails, and a great atmosphere. And of course, no Guy Fawkes celebration would be any good at all without a two-stories-high bonfire.
The rally generally starts Friday, though if you don't mind being put to work, Thursday is perfectly acceptable too. There will be lots to do: a large tent to put up, wood to saw and stack for the small welcoming fire pits. Scouting new trails is always fun, especially when combined with cutting and hauling dead wood for the bonfire to come. Lunch and dinner are whatever people bring and toss together. Marmite is not compulsory.
Saturday was the main day. Breakfast at the KC Diner at the end of the road. After that, back to the farm, where over thirty trucks appeared for the for the day’s antics. Any children present were encouraged to help Howard make the annual “Guy”.
Trucks soon headed out for a spot of off-roading on the hundred-acre property. There are tricky spots requiring some navigation and technical driving skills, pure mud slogging on the upper terraced field, and all the fun and games of the myriad trails connecting the three levels of fields. Only a couple of vehicular casualties this year- Brandon Rabbie's modified 107" trayback had to be towed down after losing a driveshaft, and Bruce Fowler managed to find a rock ledge that spectacularly modified a rim on his Range Rover Classic.
Rather than the previous two years' challenge to find various stamps in the forest, this year saw a winching challenge, with eleven teams pre-registered. The challenge appeared to be simple. A dead weight consisting of a pair of eight-foot posts bolted together, needed to be moved into a box some sixty feet away. There was a fence placed between the object and the vehicle, so a straight pull was impossible. In two heats of four, eight teams raced against the clock, with penalties for small infractions (the dead weight had balloons around one end, break a balloon and a thirty-second penalty was applied), or disqualification for grave infractions (stepping over an active winch line).
The Team "Orange" managed the task in eleven minutes and thirty seconds. Second place went to Team Vermont. The longest, about half an hour. The average was around twenty minutes. Event organizer Howard noted how it was fascinating to watch the man-man teams argue versus the husband-wife teams. One of the two could be quite amusing to watch!
One requirement of all vehicles was to seek out all of the windfalls and downed trees from last year’s event and drag them down to the bonfire pit. Thus, the day ended with an enormous bonfire, though this year with a more subdued start. As the bonfire became established, and the weather reasonable, the night off-road runs in the woods began.
This event saw several lightweights appear, and a 101 Forward Control. There were a number of Series vehicles - from a 1951 80-inch and a heavily modified 107-inch, and several Series III’s. As usual, there were quite a few Defenders and other modern Land Rovers too. No Velars though to venture onto the thick, muddy trails. All in all, a highly enjoyable and traditional small-scale event that I wish there were more of throughout the year.
Text and Photos by Dixon Kenner, Ottawa
SIGN UP for Exclusive Offers & Latest Deals
Please wait while we calculate your shipping cost.....