HARRISON — Sleigh rides, snowmobile races, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing and warming up with cocoa next to an open fire will bring people together in “The Friendly Village” during the last weekend of February.

Sponsored by the town’s Recreation Department, Winter Fest ’11 will include what is fast becoming the premier youth ice fishing event in the state, according to the event’s coordinator, Joe Jack, a Registered Maine Guide. Beginning at the Long Lake boat launch on Friday, Feb. 25, with a special event for handicapped children from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., it continues on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The derby is a partnership with Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs, a national initiative adopted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Although there are an estimated 300 fishing derbies across the state, Jack said, the Harrison event gives parents a break on the cost, and is one of the few that provide experienced volunteers to teach kids how to fish.

When a flag comes up on an ice trap or “tip-up,” signaling a fish has taken the bait, a volunteer will come over to help the child take the fish off the hook. The volunteers will also show them how to set the traps and bait the hooks.

“We’re having it at the end of school vacation week so our winter visitors can take part,” said Paula Holt, the town’s recreation director.

Because it has been sanctioned by the MDIFW, parents will be able to help their children fish without having to buy a Maine fishing license. Registration fees will be $5 for adults and $2 for kids 15 and under, regardless of residency. This is a savings for nonresidents, who pay $45 for a three-day fishing license.

“Parents don’t want to spend $45 so that a 6-year-old can fish for a couple of hours,” Jack said. He has been working with MDIFW activities coordinator Emily Jones, who is also the director of Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs.

“Working with Emily Jones, we have put together an affordable package which will give our young people a chance to learn about fishing — a chance they wouldn’t have had without the sanction of IF&W,” he added.

First, second and third place prizes will be awarded for each category of fish. The grand prize will be a youth lifetime fishing license.

Every child who registers will receive a free gift bag full of items donated by area businesses or a bait bucket full of bait. This is only the second year the event has been held, and word of the first year’s success has prompted business people to contribute.

“The owner of Willie C’s Bait and Tackle donated 400 minnows the first year. He called this year to tell me he brought his 4-year-old son the first year, and will donate 400 minnows again,” Jack said.

Winter Fest is not only an opportunity for activities for the whole family, Holt said, it’s also a great way to pull kids away from their computers, TV screens and cell phones and get them out into the fresh air for some good exercise.

“Kids today are wired,” she said. In addition to teaching them how to fish, their gift bags will include an ice trap.

“I like to give kids the tools to do a sport, instead of a trophy that sits on a shelf or in a box,” she said. At the end of this year’s basketball season, she gave her players a basketball with their names on it.

In addition to the town Recreation Department and MDIFW, help for this year’s event is coming from the owners of two local farms, High View and Northern Heights, plus members of the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, the Western Maine Fish and Game Club, Registered Maine Guides, the Harrison Friendly Riders Snowmobile Club, and the Waterford World’s Fair Association.

Winter Festival Activities

Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26

* Children’s handicap derby, Long Lake, Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

* Youth-Family Ice Fishing Derby, Long Lake, Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m;

* Sportsmen Show, Town Office, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* Ice Harvesting, Crystal Lake Park, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, Crystal Lake Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing, Crystal Lake Park, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (equipment available, or bring your own)

* Snowmobile rides – 1 to 3 p.m.

* Snowman building – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 27

* Youth-Family Ice Fishing Derby, Long Lake, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Sportsmen Show, Town Office, 9 a.m. until close

* Radar Run for Snowmobiles, Crystal Lake, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (registration, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)

* Free Sleigh Rides, High View Farm, 28 Leander Harmon Road, off Edes Falls Road, noon to 2 p.m.

* Sledding, High View Farm, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (bring a sled!)


* Breakfast Buffet, Saturday, Congregational Church, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

* Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, hot cocoa and coffee, Saturday and Sunday, Long Lake boat launch area

* Soup, chili, hot dogs and drinks, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Crystal Lake Park

* Roast pork supper, Saturday, 5 p.m., Congregational Church


* Warming fires at Long Lake and Crystal Lake Park

* Free gift bag for all children (15 and under) who enter the fishing derby

* Prizes for fishing derby winners, including a youth lifetime fishing license

* Raffles to win gift certificates and donated items from area businesses, including a cord of wood, food platter from Subway, propane and guide trips

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: