RUMFORD – In spite of ideal fall weather and a host of events to choose from, attendance at the fifth annual Family Fun Festival at Black Mountain declined this year.

Organizers noted that several factors – high school SATs, the Fryeburg Fair and other weekend events held simultaneously – contributed to the lower attendance Saturday. Those who came nevertheless relished the opportunity to experience the activities.

Organizer Peter Everett said the overall intent of the event was “trying to get people out to enjoy the offerings of the area. Each year, we try to do something different.”

This year’s festival dropped the fitness fair. Everett noted that the emphasis this time around was more on the fitness events being offered.

Although there were no participants in the biathlon, some people stopped by the shooting range to try their luck. “We’ve had people as young as 6 years old doing this,” observed Mike Yeo of the Maine Winter Sports Center, who helped participants handle the .22-caliber rifles.

Biathlon is a growing sport in Maine, with a world class facility in Fort Kent. Several Mainers competed at the World Championships. The sport, at the novice level, generally involves skiing several kilometers, shooting at five targets, and then repeating the process.

Controlling one’s heart rate and trying to hit the targets is quite challenging, noted Yeo. Another hurdle competitors face is finding a location to practice their craft.

Next March, the U.S. National Biathlon Championships will take place at Fort Kent.

Fly-casting demonstrations were offered by registered Maine master Guide William Clunie of Moose Rock Guide Service in Dixfield, and master Maine Guide Ray Chase of Chase’s Guide Service, also of Dixfield. Clunie talked about improvements in water quality and fishing opportunities in the Androscoggin River and how it is a hidden gem that anglers are beginning to discover.

“Recently, I went over there and the wildlife biologist said the dioxin levels have decreased to the point where they’re basically non-existent,” Clunie said. “I’m amazed at how clear it is,” he added. “You can see the fish and everything.”

About a dozen runners competed in a 5-kilometer road race on Black Mountain’s Nordic skiing trails, and youngsters ran a shorter, 1-kilometer version. One 5-kilometer participant, Dave Nadeau, described the trail.

“The course had a lot of elevation change, a lot of elevation gain,” he said. “It was very scenic.”

Cool, breezy weather and colorful foliage provided perfect running conditions. Nadeau complimented the race organizers for having a well-marked course and putting on a pleasant, friendly event.

A chowder challenge gave visitors the chance to taste chowders made by the Bear-ly Inn, Blue Moose Store, Brian’s Bistro, Chicken Coop, Hannaford, Route 2 Diner and Teena’s.

Rumford Hospital and Black Mountain of Maine were festival sponsors.

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