WELD — A warm winter day combined with outdoor activities and an inexpensive lunch drew hundreds to Mount Blue State Park on Saturday for the ninth annual Take It Outside: Winter Fun Day.

Park Manager Bruce Farnham said the area hasn’t seen much winter weather. Friday’s storm added just a dusting.

“We’re making do,” Farnham said. “It’s staying cold enough to keep the ice-skating rink maintained.” Young and old alike were seen making their way across the rink. Some practiced their hockey skills while others were learning how to skate. 

The Maine Bureau of Public Lands brought a trailer filled with snowshoes and cross-country skis to borrow. Farnham said conditions weren’t ideal. The ski area was moved to make use of what snow there was.

Amber Bridges of Wilton said, “It’s nice not having so many people in the ski area this year.” Her family attends each year. Daughter Aliza wanted to go around the track once, but that quickly became twice. And then thrice. “At least it’s warmer than last year,” Amber Bridges said.

Farnham said the skis and snowshoes would be at the park Feb. 17-21 and again after March 5. “Due to the lack of snow and the not-great skiing, we will try to have somebody here each day during vacation,” he said.

Several displays were set up at park headquarters. At the nature center, specimens of Maine wildlife could be studied up-close. Another display focused on winter camping, complete with a snow cave.

New displays this year included information on ice-fishing, making maple syrup, and identifying trees in the winter. Northern Lights, Hearth and Sports brought several fat bikes for those wishing to try them.

Farnham said a slew of volunteers make the Winter Family Fun Day possible. Employees from other state parks help. People donate food, help serve lunch, share their knowledge and offer rides. A tractor-drawn wagon was used this year because draft horse owner David Fish wasn’t available.

Members of Friends of Maine State Parks wrote a grant to Farmington Wal-Mart to pay for the lunch. Other supporters are Franklin Savings Bank, Hannaford of Farmington, Irving Big Stop, Poland Spring Water, Skoolhouse Variety, Weld General Store and Wicked Joe Coffee.

Farther up Center Hill, a packed trail made the sliding fast. Three members of the Weld Winter Wildcats Snowmobile Club took sledders to the top of the hill for runs down the steep, curvy hill. Dylan Antone of Livermore Falls was there with his children. They had attended three or four years ago. “It’s especially nice,” he said. “The kids love it.”  

Farnham said next year will be the 10th year. “I’ll be looking for ways to make it special,” he said.

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