FARMINGTON — Cabin fever didn't stand a chance on Saturday.
There were just too many reasons to get outside and enjoy what the day had to offer — like blue-sky sunshine, fresh air at 55 degrees and wicked good family fun at the debut Fire & Ice Festival.
"This is a great, great thing," Megan Howell, 17, of Farmington said while helping young children decorate snowmen. "I love it."
The festival, which was sponsored by the Farmington Downtown Association, was created to help families overcome cabin fever while attracting customers to businesses struggling in the tough economy.
Several hundred families, children and adults participated in several events and activities throughout the day and into the evening.
Big hits with the daytime crowds included dog sled rides, snow tubing down a sidehill course between Front and Main streets, snowmen making and decorating, a 300-hay-bale maze at Bangor Savings Bank, ice carving and horse-drawn wagon rides.
Postmaster Sue Jones of Farmington ran the snowman-making contest for youngsters, who were provided with materials with which to decorate the Frosty lookalikes.
Snow was trucked in and dumped on the Pierce House front lawn, and then a dozen teens from New Vineyard's New Life Community Church Youth Group began making snowmen ranging from 7 feet tall to a couple of feet tall.
"Our goal was 40 snowmen, and we have achieved our goal already today and we're only an hour into the festival," Jones said at noon. "It's so exciting."
She said event organizers were pleasantly surprised at the unexpectedly huge turnout.
"It's been more than what they were expecting, which is what we wanted," Jones said. "You always hope for the most, but don't expect it, so it's beyond expectations."
People didn't seem to mind standing in the lines that quickly formed for nearly every activity except the snowman contest.
"This is a beautiful day," James Jones of Anson said while helping his daughter Joyanna Jones, 6, and nephew Trae Tingley, 7, decorate a snow woman. "You couldn't ask for a better one."
Sue Jones is the children's grandmother, he said.
Nearby, Madeleine Brochu, 9, of Augusta and her grandparents, Larry and Debbie Fortin of Farmington, created a seal pup for Brochu's snowman.
Brochu named the snowman Eli and the seal Fufie.
"She usually skates in the winter to beat cabin fever," Larry Fortin said.
Rick and Linda Thompson of Auburn said they saw a newspaper story about the Fire & Ice Festival and brought their 2-year-old granddaughter, Lindee Woodsum, up for the day.
On the opposite side of Main Street, Allen Danforth, who owns Homestead Bakery, invited children and families to try the free hay bale maze.
"It's the first time we've done a winter fest," Danforth said. "I've had a ton of kids going through this."
Sherilyn Chick, 8, of Industry emerged laughing and told Danforth she enjoyed the maze.
"That was fun," she said. " It was tricky."
Over at the snow tubing run that Kevin Vining built on Friday, families stood in line waiting to take a spin down on snow tubes that downtown businesses purchased for the event.
"That was awesome, Momma!" Julian Richard, 8, of Farmington said after flying down the course and riding high on the large banked curve. "It was a little wet, but it was awesome!"
He and his mother lugged the tube between them and headed for the steps to do it again.
Over at Prescott Field, the faces of Logan Dolbier, 10, of Farmington and Keegan Austin, 11, of Rangeley lit up with big grins when dog sled musher Jacob Turner of Jay and a team of six dogs took off unexpectedly.
It was Dolbier's first such ride, but old hat for Austin, whose dog sled debut came at the age of 5, he said.
Back at the snow tube course, Charity Haines of Farmington watched for her children to ride down.
"This is great," she said.
"It's exercise and fresh air in sunshine. Compared to last week when we had nothing but clouds, it's beautiful. I think spring has finally sprung."