FARMINGTON —  Months of sub-zero blah were wiped out by noon Saturday when temperatures hit 45 degrees as outdoor events got underway at the Fire & Ice Festival along Front Street.

An hour later, the spring fever kind of dissipated when a chilling wind began to blow hard at 1 p.m., returning temperatures to the 30s. Several people returned to their vehicles in the Franklin Savings Bank parking lot to get jackets and gloves.

Others, already outfitted, stood in a growing line at the snow-tubing course near the Franklin Savings Bank steps.

The aromas of movie-theater popcorn, melted butter and pizza mingled along Front Street, as families left discounted matinees at Narrow Gauge Cinemas and the Snack Shack near Prescott Field.

The Turner family of Jay brought their dogs and offered dog-sledding rides around the field, competing with snow-tubing for crowds, which were smaller than last year’s festival.

Jared Burnham of Chesterville and Nick Conkey of Wilton shared a tube down the course, traveling slower than they expected, due to the early warmth.

“It was pretty fun,” Burnham said. “I don’t think it was worth the wait, though.”

Small children didn’t seem to mind the wait and frequently burst out laughing and shrieking while zooming down the course, which descended into a large, banking turn, then ran parallel to Front Street.

Gavin Mills, 9, of Canton, had a big grin on his red face as he rode a tube that was nearly twice his size, ear flaps on his hat blowing straight out from his ears.

When the tube slowed, the youngster accidentally flipped it over atop himself, then laughed loudly while struggling in the icy snow to get out from under it.

“It’s a slow ride, but the kids don’t mind,” Joe Mills, Gavin’s father, said after helping Gavin lift the tube off the course to return it to the top.

They’d already taken a dog sled ride, then got in some snow-tubing and were off to chow down on pizza. Joe Mills said he was enjoying the return to more seasonable temperatures.

“It’s not bad compared to the way it’s been,” he said. “I’m not even wearing a jacket today. Got to like that.”

At Prescott Field, the loud whines of racing snowmobiles competed for attention with the cacophony of sled dogs anxious to hit the trail.

Carol Whitehouse of Chesterville watched her grandchildren trying out dog sledding. When the first two — Malia Witherell, 12, and Mason Keene, 5, both of Farmington —  returned, Whitehouse said she thought it looked exciting.

“We were hoping it was going to be warmer,” Whitehouse said. “Last year, it was so warm we were looking for places to put our coats.”

Riders Angie Casavant and her daughters, Emma, 8, and Allison, 6, all of Farmington, broke out into big grins and laughter as dog sled driver Jake Turner of Jay started his dog team on the trail.

“It’s really fun,” Angie Casavant said afterward. “We’re enjoying the warm weather.”

Back at the snow-tubing course, 4-year-old Lauren Brackett of Jay summed up the day, after riding a tube down with her baby sitter, Karisa Macomber of Jay.

“Fun! Fun!” Brackett said.

[email protected]

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: