The Rome Sno-Bandits started in the late 1960’s when about 8 couples from the Rome area decided to form a club and call themselves the Bentley Hillbillies Snowmobile Club. The Bentely Hills moniker was connected to the “rolling hills” of the Rome area. They originally would meet at the Hideaway supper club on the Petenwel flowage.
The group that would meet for rides did not have the luxury of the trail system we have now. “We really had some great rides…without the benefit of trails like there are now…we made our own” one founding member was quoted. The Bentley Hillbillies were instrumental in laying the foundation of what we know now as our trail system. As the sport and the club grew it was decided to change the name of the club to the Rome Sno-Bandits. On March 9th 1978 the club was granted incorporation as the Rome Sno-Bandits by the State if Wisconsin.
The Rome Sno-Bandits held their meeting and met at Trails End Bar and Grill, according to former bar co-owner Yvonne Hoffman.
In 2003 a section of trail was dedicated to the late LeRoy “Pete” Yanke who was a lifetime member and Trail Boss for many years for the club. The Pete Yanke memorial sign can be seen at the entrance to the trail by the Lake Camelot lodge.
Looking through old newsletters, summer picnics, winter picnics, poker runs, fall hayrides and bonfires were some of the social events that the club held. There are stories of great summer barbeque feasts at Pettenwell Park, frozen deviled eggs at a fall picnic, and individual characters that legends are made of. Dances were popular in the mid 1970’s with bands like the Wayne Aschenberg Orchestra. The Sno-Bandits also held yearly raffles and dances at the Rome Town hall to raise money to support the trails.
Rome Sno-Bandits member, Linda Ebbe, became the states first female DNR Safety Instructor. "I stressed hand signals as they were not even mentioned at that time, just seemed logical to me".
Through the work of the clubs early board, they were able to get state funding to help with the "dragging" of the original trails. The club contracted with local excavators and farmers to groom the tails for the club. Talking with Ken Hoffman, he can remember grooming the trails on an open cab bulldozer in sub zero weather. The equipment used today is designed for the sole purpose of grooming snowmobile trails. The Sno-Bandits now own two pieces of grooming equipment to maintain the trail system.
The snowmobiling community has these early members to thank or having the vision and applying the hard work that has helped develop the sport to what it is today.
The Sno-Bandits have always been involved in our community.
Christmas In Rome
The Rome Sno-Bandits, in cooperation with the Romemakers HCE, sponsor Christmas in Rome. Our club decorates the northwest corner of Highway 13 and Alpine Drive along with providing trees for local business to decorate. We have hayrides, a chili challenge, caroling by candlelight, and Santa arrives by fire truck. Our club works hard to make this a fun event for our community.
Our club is part of the Adopt-A-Highway Program. Adopt-A-Highway was initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation many years ago. It was an opportunity created to allow organizations to help in beautifying our state's highways by picking up trash two or three times a year. The Rome Sno-Bandits, seeing a need to take over for the Rome Lions Club, applied to adopt the section of Highway 13 from County Road D to Adams Ave. in August of 2012. Our club takes pride in helping to keep our town looking great!
Rome Classic Car, Bike & Snowmobile Show
Fund raising is the core that supports most snowmobile clubs today. The Rome Classic Car, Bike & Snowmobile Show is our club's biggest fundraising event. This event is held annually on the Saturday of Father's Day Weekend at the Rome Town Center Park. Not only are there beautiful cars, bikes, and snowmobiles on display, but we have food and refreshments, apparel sales, and music provided by a DJ. This is a fun event for the entire family.
Trail Brushing & Signing
Our annual fall trail brushing and signing event is held with over 50 volunteer workers present. After the work is done, everyone enjoys the famous chili dump with refreshments. Our club works hard to keep our trails in excellent shape.
Years ago the club sponsored a Halloween haunted house for the kids in the community, held Poker Runs, partnered with the Taste of Rome Committee, supported the Fire Dept Fund, and the Meylor Open to help fund local charities and scholarships. We also continue to support the MS Society and several local needs.
The Rome Sno-Bandits have grown in many ways. We are now a club of over 200 and we maintain about 35 miles of snowmobile trails. In 2008 the Saratoga Chug a Bugs merged with the Rome Sno-Bandits. With the merger the Sno-Bandits picked up an additional 10 miles of trail and some members of the Chug a Bugs.
The Sno-Bandits always have fun in everything we do no matter if we are working on trails or enjoying a club ride. The Rome Sno-Bandits is a community based club that supports the local businesses and the surrounding area. The Rome Sno-Bandits remain to be a strong club in the area.
In 2020, the Rome Sno-bandits and the Town of Rome were awarded Snowmobile Friendly Community award by the AWSC. Our club and town have a lot to be proud of.