FARMINGTON — With winter beckoning, four ski vendors and the community brought about 3,500 skis, snowboards, boots, helmets, poles and apparel to Saturday's Farmington Ski Club ski sale at Mount Blue High School.
They were met during the 8 a.m. to noon event by hundreds of people of all ages, anxious to get outfitted for the great winter that many said is predicted in the 196-year-old Farmers' Almanac.
"The line started from here back down the hall and halfway up the hall at 7:30," Anita Hedstrom of Farmington said inside the gym. "People were in line to get good deals. So the place was packed when we opened the doors at 8 and people flooded in."
Participating vendors were Northern Lights of Farmington, Carters XC Ski Center in Bethel and Oxford, Ski Depot in Jay and Sportshaus Ski & Sport of Bridgton. Community members also brought new and used gear.
Everything moved, Karleen Andrews, Titcomb Mountain ski area manager, said of sales.
"It was a combination of Nordic skis, boots, alpine skis and boots, and everything that was small, a lot of children's stock went," she said. "That's a sign that families are getting kids into it. That's always a good sign when small equipment goes."
Andrews said a typical bargain can range from $5 for a pair of children's boots or a helmet.
"Typically, it's more, but even so, some items are under $50 for a lot of boots — even teenager boots," she said. "We also have a fair amount of clothing that comes in, which is jackets and a lot of racing jackets and race skis that are both cross-country and downhill skis, and a lot of those move as well, and those are all good value."
Kim Elliott of Strong brought her 14-year-old son, Ryan, to buy snowboard equipment for him and his sister.
"I thought I was going to have to come early, but we found good deals," Kim Elliott said. "It will give the kids something to do for the winter, at a better price."
Harold Beisaw of North Jay, who was helping Ski Depot with sales and fittings, said a lot of used stuff was selling very well. He teaches skiing at Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley.
"It's anticipation of a good winter," Beisaw said. "If you read the (Farmers') Almanac, it says we're going to have a good one, and we're supposed to get a little snow next week."
Jeff Ryder, 55, of East Wilton, bought a new set of downhill equipment from the Ski Depot so he could learn to ski and a season pass at Titcomb, said Sarah Parr, an experienced skier, also of East Wilton.
"A fundraiser like this is so beneficial for the club," she said.
Andrews said the club sold "a good number" of pre-season passes, which "gives us some encouragement."
It's also another indicator, she said, that people are expecting a snowier winter than last year's lackluster season that essentially ended in March when temperatures topped out in the 80s.
"We're hoping the forecasters are right for a cold winter and more snow than last year," Andrews said.
"We have high expectations," Sherry Buzzell of Monmouth said of the upcoming winter.
She brought two coaches and most of Monmouth Academy's debut Nordic ski team of four boys and 12 girls to the sale.
"We made out well," she said."We just came with a checkbook."
"We all ran in and just followed everyone around and grabbed the ones that looked like they might be what we'd need, and said, 'Here, hold this and this,'" said her daughter, Shannon Buzzell, 15.
Sherry Buzzell said they came last year, also, "but I don't think it was as good as what we found this year. So we did awesome."
Betsey Hyde of Temple said she came to the sale to outfit her children and to shop for a pair of boots for herself.
"We have three kids and they all need new skis this year," she said.
"We got great deals and I found myself some boots, but we did it all for a great price, phenomenal actually, and we're hoping for tons and tons of snow and to be completely socked in so all we can do is ski, and you have to ski to get to town," she said.