Fall Foliage Festival draws community outside in Madawaska

Posted Sept. 18, 2010, at 3:28 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:50 a.m.

MADAWASKA, Maine — It may be part of the Maine Winter Sports Center’s statewide network, but folks in Madawaska this weekend were taking full advantage of summerlike conditions at the Four Seasons Lodge.

“We want to live up to our name,” John Ezzy, lodge executive director, said Saturday as the annual Fall Foliage Festival got under way. “We didn’t just build this facility for skiing; it’s for community activities all year.”

Event organizers couldn’t have asked for a better day as temperatures Saturday climbed to the low 70s under a sunny sky.

Early in the day ski trails gave way to bicycling as 16 mountain bikers rode a 6- or 12-kilometer loop in the Top O’ Maine bike race.

“We want to get people excited about the outdoors and what is available for recreation here in Madawaska,” Austin Ross, event co-chair said. “Today’s race and the other events at the festival are definitely in line with that.”

In addition to the mountain bike race, festival-goers took part in horse-drawn hayrides, pony rides, a horseshoe tournament, guided nature walks and a farmers market.

Regardless of what people opted to do, the important thing was to just get outside and do it, Ross said.

The 24-year-old member of the Maine Winter Sports Center ski team was enthused by the opportunities available at the Four Seasons Lodge.

“There is a great selection of trails here for biking,” he said. “There are eight or nine kilometers open at the this point from single track to smooth ski trails.”

Among those on the trails racing Saturday was Maine Winter Sports Center alumna Grace Boutot of Fort Kent, currently a member of the U.S. Junior Biathlon Team.

“The trails are awesome, Boutot, 19, said after crossing the finish line. “That was so much fun.”

Boutot said she had ridden the course three or four years ago and it was obvious a great deal of work had been done since then.

“There is so much more single track now,” she said. “I raced today just for fun because it’s something different and these are really, really fun trails.”

Up at the lodge Four Seasons volunteer Sandra Dionne was working with Aline Bouchard and Hilda Cyr to husk dozens of ears of corn in time for the corn boil.

“These ladies come to all the events here,” Dionne said of her helpers and a third companion, Ramone Hachey. “It’s great to see them here today.”

As she tossed a clean ear of corn into a bowl, Bouchard added quickly, “Yes, but we never thought we’d be peeling corn today.”

The outings allow the trio some great socializing opportunities.

“This is fun for us,” Hachey said. “We get to see people we know and enjoy the outdoors on a nice day like today.”

Cyr agreed.

“We don’t miss any of the events here,” she said.

That’s just the kind of enthusiasm Doug Cyr, event co-chairman, loves to hear.

“This is a community center for the community,” he said Saturday morning. “With the crew of volunteers we have today and the weather cooperating this is going to be a great day.”

Dionne said the festival allows the lodge to show off its nonwinter activities to the community.

“It’s our hope to provide opportunities for year-round exercise and wellness,” she said. “We want people to get up and get outside.”

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