SKOWHEGAN — Joshua Berryman is a rookie snowplow driver for the Skowhegan Highway Department with only about three months of experience in his six months on the job.

But Berryman, 22, said he had enough practice plowing snow last winter to represent the town Thursday in the Snow Plow Rodeo, a timed obstacle course for trucks and drivers, part of the 24th annual Highway Congress hosted in Skowhegan by the American Public Works Association.

“He did well,” Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore said.

Berryman said part of the competition Thursday was to maneuver a plow truck through the course, back into tight spots, parallel park and make the truck knock a painted soccer ball off of a 12-inch cone with the plow wing without knocking over the cone.

“We had to drive through a serpentine course, following arrows,” Berryman said. “I plowed most of the winter, so it wasn’t so bad. I guess I did OK.”

OK, but he didn’t win.


Dore said that while Berryman and his partner, Clyde Ayotte, did OK, they really didn’t have a chance of winning against drivers from Cumberland County and the Maine Department of Transportation because those other teams practice during the year and local crews don’t.

“You really have to get through the whole thing without making any mistakes. Then it comes down to the time,” Dore said. “If you hit something, you’re pretty much done.”

In the end, a team from the DOT won the event and will get a paid trip to the national snow rodeo finals this fall in Colorado.

Roger Mosley, of Standish, who ran the rodeo judging table Thursday, said 13 teams competed in the Snow Plow Rodeo. Teams came from the Maine Turnpike Authority, DOT and Cumberland, York, Somerset and Androscoggin counties.

“It’s difficult,” Mosley said. “It’s a good, tight course. I suspect most of them have had a fair bit of time plowing.”

Mosley said Maine usually places well at the nationals. Last year, he said, the town of Kennebunk won the state event.


“We went to Colorado and finished eight out of 47 teams,” said Matthew Cluff, one of the Kennebunk drivers with wing partner Kevin Renk. Both men have been plowing snow for about 25 years.

“It’s hard. You’ve got a lot of good teams, so to win is an accomplishment, that’s for sure,” Renk said. “You’ve got to alley dock where you back in between the cones, and you have to get to a sawhorse within a certain distance. There is the serpentine going through the barrels, so you have to slalom, left, right, left, with a cul-de-sac at the end. You have to avoid the car, but hitting the tennis ball; avoiding the mailbox, but hitting the board underneath.”

Dore said the president of the Maine chapter is picked each year from among public works directors around the state. Dore is a past president.

The Highway Congress this year was a collection of 103 public works vendors, including equipment dealers and engineering firms displaying their wares and expertise, Dore said. There also was a series of training sessions presented by Maine Local Roads, a division of the transportation department.

The Highway Congress is held on the first Thursday of June every year at the fairgrounds.

“It’s an opportunity for vendors to show what they have for new equipment,” Dore said. “They come from all over the United States.


“For vendors who want to do business in the municipal field, they need to be here. This is an opportunity for them to see over 1,000 public employees,” Dore said. “We built up that reputation. There are 80 or 90 towns, the Maine DOT and Turnpike Authority here.”

As for Berryman and Ayotte — the Skowhegan highway department team — they did win something on Thursday, Dore said.

They get to keep their jobs and come back to plow more snow next winter.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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