NORWAY — The sixth annual Norway Maine Snowshoe Festival will be held Friday through Sunday, Feb. 12 to 14.

It will include an exhibit of Norway-made and native North American snowshoes and snowshoe walks, snowshoe races, snowshoe games for the whole family and a Mellie Dunham contra dance.

Recognized in 2012 by the Maine Downtown Center as a uniquely Maine festival, the event will celebrate Norway’s cultural heritage of arts and crafts, with support from Norway Downtown, Healthy Oxford Hills, the Western Foothills Land Trust, the United Way of Oxford County and the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend.

Norway, once self-proclaimed as “The Snowshoe Town of America,” was home to four major snowshoe industries between 1850 and 1980: Dunham, H.H. Hosmer, Snowcraft and Tubbs.

Norway snowshoes took Adm. Robert Peary to the North Pole, American explorer Richard Byrd to the South Pole and supported U.S. troops during World Wars I and II.

An exhibit of Norway-made Snowshoes and Paris Manufacturing Co. will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Paul Cote of Pa’s Antique Attic, 1192 Main St., Oxford, has put together an exhibit of his collection of over 300 pairs of Norway-made, Maine-made and Native North American-made snowshoes.

In addition, he will exhibit the best of his Paris Manufacturing Co. collection, including early painted sleds, skis, children’s’ wagons and doll carriages.

A $3 contribution is requested; proceeds will benefit the Norway Food Pantry. Free coffee will be provided.

The festival will start at 10 a.m. Friday with a Lincoln’s Birthday snowshoe walk at Shepard’s Farm Preserve, 121 Crockett Ridge Road. The preserve features six Bernard Langlais sculptures and a mile snowshoe loop trail. Snowshoes will be available upon request. Stovepipe hats are suggested.

Mellie Dunham was not only the first commercial snowshoe-maker in town, outfitting Adm. Peary’s expedition to the North Pole, he was also a renowned fiddler, who was commissioned by Henry Ford to play traditional fiddle music across the country.

In honor of Dunham’s talents, the festival involves a contra dance, athletic and family friendly outdoor snowshoe events and Paris Manufacturing Co. sled, skis and wagon events.

This year’s contra dance will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at the Norway Grange, where Dunham and fellow snowshoe-maker Nate Noble often performed. Pam Weeks will play fiddle and Bill Olson will call. The dance is suitable for all ages and experience levels. A $5 contribution is requested. No street shoes are allowed on the dance floor.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 , the United Way of Oxford County will hold “Cupid Dash” snowshoe races at Roberts Farm Preserve, 64 Roberts Road. There will be 2.5k, 5k and 10k races. All proceeds will benefit the United Way. Snowshoes will be available upon request.

The annual Family Snowshoe Games, including the annual World’s Only Snowshoe Wife Carry, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Roberts Farm Preserve.

Norway-made snowshoes will be on display at Cafe Nomad on Main Street along with chocolate snowshoes made by Maine Gourmet Chocolates and snowshoe valentines with Mellie Dunham lyrics.

This year’s festival is also part of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, which promotes outdoor activities across Maine.


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