AUGUSTA — The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is sponsoring six days of winter events in THE coming weeks AT state parks around the state.
During January and February, Maine families and other visitors will be able to enjoy fun, affordable, day-long outdoor activities at some of the most beautiful locales in the state, according to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) officials.
Two major ice-fishing derbies will be held, as will four winter-fun days when families can try out such activities as cross-country skiing, sledding, snow shoeing and dog sled rides.
“This is the third year of our ‘Take It Outside’ winter events, and we’re hoping for as great a response as we have seen in the past,” Will Harris, BPL director, said in a department press release.
“Take It Outside” is an initiative first begun in 2008 and carried on by BPL to encourage Maine families to get outdoors for recreation, relaxation and health. In the past three years, BPL has held numerous events during each season at state parks and historic sites. Last year, more than 4,200 visitors enjoyed eight separate winter events. More than 1,100 people in particular showed up for a children’s ice fishing derby at Range Ponds State Park in Poland Spring.
Equipment is provided to allow families to try out various activities. Several events also are scheduled during the school vacation week.
The events are sponsored numerous businesses and organizations, with Hannaford, Poland Spring Water, Wicked Joe Coffee, Oakhurst Dairy, Maine Winter Sports Center, and Kittery Trading Post as major sponsors. Community volunteers also take part to make sure the winter events take place.
“We are very grateful for all the support we receive to make these special events happen,” Harris said. “We couldn’t do them without our sponsors and volunteers who show how much they care about Maine state parks.”
This year’s series starts with the 3rd annual Youth Ice Fishing Derby at Lake St. George State Park in Liberty. The event has always been very successful, drawing more than 100 people during its first year who actually braved a blizzard to get out on the lake and fish. Last year, 600 people showed to fish and enjoy all the other winter activities.
“We’re catching fish, catching brook trout,” Park Manager Leland Griffin reported this week. Griffin said that he personally had caught two salmon, each over 20-inches long. He said the lake would be stocked for the event and that there was 6 inches of ice on the lake, making it safe for ice fishing.
• Youth Ice Fishing Derby, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 16, Lake St. George State Park, Liberty; learn how to ice fish, all equipment, including bait, provided, all registered children receive prizes; dog sled rides, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $3 donation; other sponsors include Corner Restaurant, Peavey’s General Store, Liberty Sports, B&B Septic, Mountain Valley Sports, Lori’s Cafe, Toby’s, Hilltop Store, Morrill Store, B & M Market, Belfast Variety, Olde Mill Restaurant, The Outdoor Sportsman, 10-4 Store, Hussey’s General Store, and Jerry Robbins; hot lunch included, warming hut available; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; kids and seniors free; for more information, call (207) 589-4255.
• Winter Family Fun Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22, Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds Township; Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobile “tote-rides”, guided nature interpretive walks; other sponsors include Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge and Washington County Community College; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; kids and seniors free; for more information, call (207) 726-4412.
• Winter Family Fun Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 29, Mount Blue State Park, Weld; Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating on the most beautiful outdoor rink in Maine, sledding, wagon rides, nature interpretive walks, bonfires, warming hut; other sponsors include Northern Lights, Hearth & Sports, Franklin Savings Bank, Weld General Store and Skoolhouse Variety; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; kids and seniors free; for more information, call (207) 585-2261.
• Winter Family Fun Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23, Fort McClary State Park, Kittery Point; outdoor games, snowshoeing, maple sugaring , nature walks, winter survival demos, animal tracking, bonfires; other sponsors include Kittery Recreation Dept., Eliot Recreation Dept.; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; kids and seniors free; for more information, call (207) 384-5160.
• 2011 Kittery Trading Post Kid’s Derby, 8 a.m.-noon, Friday, Feb. 25, Range Ponds State Park, Poland Spring; limited to the first 500 entries, age 12 and under; free entry for derby, with $1.50 park admission fee for those ages 12-64, all others are free. Run in cooperation with the “Hooked on Fishing” program and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; each child receives a free ice fishing tip-up, compliments of Kittery Trading Post. For more information on the event and registration, go to: http://www.icefishingderby.com/maine/kids-derby/
• Winter Family Fun Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26, Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle; Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobile “tote-rides,” guided nature interpretive walks; other sponsors include Graves Super Market, Katahdin Trust Co., Haines Manufacturing Inc., TD Bank; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; kids and seniors free; for more information, call (207) 768-8341.
For more information about any of these events, call the individual parks or go to: http://take-it-outside.com/index.html
For information about Maine state parks, historic sites and public lands, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com.