Local winter festival packs activities and entertainment

By Jackie Rybeck

Feature Writer

Winter is here. But don’t be woeful about the short days and cold nights. Throw on that big coat and celebrate at the city of Auburn’s Winter Festival.

Starting on Friday, Jan. 24, and running through Sunday, Jan. 26, three action-packed days full of high energy activities and entertainment will keep attendees busy.

Jeremy Gatcomb, the recreation program leader for Auburn Parks and Rec Department, is looking forward to the event.

“Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or just want to get out of the house during the winter months, the Winter Festival is guaranteed to offer events for everyone’s enjoyment,” he said. “Besides getting outside, the Festival also allows people to try activities like skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling when they might not have the chance to try these type of activities otherwise.”

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Since 2001, the Winter Festival has been a community-based event with the city of Auburn putting on some of the activities and helping with the planning. Many volunteer groups, organizations and businesses help in making it such an abundant success.

“Events range from guided snowshoe hikes at Mt. Apatite, to climbing through snow forts at Central Maine Community College,” added Gatcomb. “There is skating at the new Norway Savings Bank Arena, and even crafts, movies and stories at the Auburn Public Library.

“Tim Horton’s Winter Classic 3-on-3 pond hockey at Walton is always a favorite,” he added, “as well as free skating at the school.”

Many of the events will take place at the Lost Valley Ski and Banquet Resort.

Connie King, owner, is excited about the Festival as well.

“This is a great community event,” said King. “And with Lost Valley being dedicated to the community, we are proud to be a host. The whole Auburn Winterfest weekend is a great way to get out, enjoy this wonderful winter weather, and have fun with the family.”

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And you don’t have to ski to participate in many of the happenings.

“Besides watching all the slalom races and rail jam competitions, visitors will be treated to partaking in snow rafting rides, snowmobile rides and checking out all the beautiful snow sculptures,” said King.

“And for those who do ski,” she added. “We will be offering some fantastic discounted lift ticket prices throughout the whole weekend. And to make it affordable skiing for everyone, LA Harley and Emerson Toyota will be sponsoring Ski-Free Sunday from 4-8 p.m.”

One new event for this year is a Paintball Triathlon.

“It’s open to all ages,” said King. “Participants will ski, then stop and shoot paintball targets. It is really going to be fun to enter or just watch.”

For the little tikes, there will be cardboard sledding and snow obstacle courses. And what child doesn’t love a bonfire complete with S’mores, sponsored by the LA Optimist Club.

“On Friday and Saturday night there will be live music at Lost Valley’s Brookside lounge,” explained King. “People can get their groove on with the band ‘Under the Covers.’ And one of the most popular events is the Torchlight Parade, where a beautiful line of skiers holding torches ski downhill in tandem. It’s just breathtaking.”

Gatcomb said this year they are trying to offer more activities that are not the standard, outside events so as to allow as many people to take part in the Winter Fest as possible.

“Winter Festival is a celebration of all things winter and a great way to take a break from the winter blues,” smiled Gatcomb. “Come take part in the outdoor as well as the indoor activities and enjoy all things Auburn has to offer.”

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