Try your luck in the Gifford’s Ice Cream Eating Contest on Saturday, September 4th at the 9th Rangeley Trail Town Festival, 10am-4pm, Pond Street. Free games, activities, storytelling, and music for all. Peggy Yocom

What’s it like to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT)? How can you best manage a long-distance hike? What are some of the best shorter hikes near Rangeley? Learn this and more from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts at the 9th Rangeley Trail Town Festival on September 4th from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Music, storytelling, games, and more—all free at Haley Pond Park on Pond Street, near Ecopelagicon.

At 11:00 a.m, Doug Dunlap, author of numerous guidebooks on western Maine hiking, snowshoeing, and more will share suggestions about how you can write about the outdoors. Then, Warren Doyle, an 18-time through hiker, will tell about his hikes and about how you can get support for your own.

At noon, internationally-known storyteller and mime Antonio Rocha (pronounced “haw-sha”) will present “Nature, My Teacher.” With his tenor voice, realistic sound effects and precise mime moves, he will recount his hilarious yet poignant Kilimanjaro climb story and that of his three-day hike on the AT with his through-hiker daughter—and the lessons he learned. A nature lover, Antonio is sure to delight your soul and tickle your funny bone. For more information about this Brazilian-born Maine resident, visit www.storyinmotion.com

At 1:00 p.m., tap your toes to the music of “Unknown Legend,” Rangeley’s own Joe Montimurro and Nancy Bessey. And, at 3:15 p.m., see how fast you can eat a pint of Gifford’s “Muddy Boots” in the Ice Cream Eating Contest, the favorite event of the festival ($2 kids, $3 adults, free to Appalachian Trail hikers).

All day, come and play boot toss, corn hole, AT ball toss, AT map puzzle, and more. With beads, make a necklace that represents all 14 AT states. Bring a rock you’ve wondered about and let Rock Doc John Slack tell you about it. Enter the raffle to win outdoor equipment.

Maine outdoors organizations will share first-hand information about how to hike safely and how to care for local woods and trails. For example, members of the Maine Appalachian Club will tell how you can become involved in their work on the trail. T.R.A.C. (Trails for Rangeley Area Coalition) will share details about its weekly hikes and paddles. The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust will hand out maps of its many trails and tell about its latest plans to preserve land for Rangeley’s future.

Artists and crafters whose work highlights the outdoors will line Pond Street, including Billdad Soap of Stratton and Rodney Richard, Jr., traditional wood carver from Rangeley and Pownal, who will demonstrate jackknife and chain saw carving. Steve Lynch will sell the AT journals he makes.

Rangeley Lakes Region Caterers—Jonathan and Lisa Krach—will serve sausage sandwiches as well as their famous apple strudel. Restaurants nearby will be open, too.

On the evening before all these activities, the Trail Town Festival presents the Maine Outdoor Film Festival at 7:00pm in Rangeley’s Lakeside Theater. “More Than A Mountain”—about Saddleback—and seven other films make up the program. Donation is $6; $3 for AT hikers and children under 12. Refreshments available for purchase.

Rangeley is one of only 35 towns along the 2,180-mile AT to be named an official “Appalachian Trail Community.” The town received this honor from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to honor Rangeley as a community that actively protects all of its natural, cultural, and recreational resources, including the AT, which runs from Georgia to Mt. Katahdin. For more information on the Rangeley Trail Town Festival, call Linda Dexter of the Ecopelagicon, 864-2771; join us on facebook; and visit our website: http://rangeleytrailtown.com

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