It might not be up there with the famous groundhog’s February appearance when it comes to harbingers of spring, but in these parts, the annual staging of the Cabin Fever Reliever outdoor expo serves a similar purpose. It tells us that the roughest sledding is (or should be) behind us, and that warmer weather is on its way.
This year’s Cabin Fever Reliever will be held Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1, at the Joseph L. Ferris Community Center — formerly the Brewer Auditorium. The show will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The show is organized by the Penobscot Fly Fishers, and it has an educational focus as it celebrates longer days and warming weather.
“It’s family-friendly, and it’s free,” show chairman Tim White said. “You get stuck in the cabin. You get kind of stir crazy after being in there for the winter, and you want to get outside.”
At the show, attendees can emerge from their winter hibernation, chat with outdoorsy folks and begin planning the year’s adventures.
“You’re starting to think about springtime. Maybe we’ve had a little bit of spring thaw, and you’re looking at the rivers and thinking about getting out canoeing or fishing or swimming,” White said. “You’re looking at the woods, and you’re thinking about your favorite hunting grounds or your favorite birdwatching grounds.”
The Cabin Fever Reliever was first staged at the Old Town YMCA in 2005, as a cooperative effort with Old Town Canoe. After two years at that venue, the show was discontinued and a 2007 show was not staged. It has been held at the Brewer Auditorium annually since 2008.
While fly fishing and fly tying aren’t the sole activities on display, they do have a good representation. In one of the highlights of each year’s show, kids can learn to tie their first flies from expert Penobscot Fly Fishers members.
“It is very magical,” White said, describing watching a young child learn to tie a fly. “You start with a bare hook and you never imagined that you can create something that’s both very pretty and functional for fishing. And the kids are usually pretty adept at it. It’s fun to watch how quickly they pick up on it.”
As has become our custom, the Bangor Daily News will have a booth at the show, and BDN Act Out editor Aislinn Sarnacki and I will be on hand to chat about the outdoors and potential story ideas.
Visitors who think they’ve seen mountain lions in Maine will be invited to plot the locations of their sightings on a Google map, and we’ll be happy to listen to any coverage suggestions you may have.
We’ll also be accepting entry blanks for this year’s “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest, which will be our 18th and likely final trip with guide Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly Shop. One lucky winner will join Legere and me on a June 14 fly fishing trip down the East Outlet of the Kennebec River.
Sarnacki will have copies of her hiking books, including “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine,” to sign and sell, and I’ll be happy to sell you a copy of my first book, “Evergreens.” And if you want to hear more about “Evergreens,” I’ll be presenting book talks at 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and your questions are welcome.
The Cabin Fever Reliever is the first local outdoor expo, but others will follow. Here’s the rundown of shows that are coming up:
— Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show, Orono, March 13-15.
— Presque Isle Fish and Game Club Sportsman’s Show, Presque Isle, March 21-22.
— State of Maine Sportsman’s Show, Augusta, March 27-29.