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Moosestompers winter carnival to return next weekend

HOULTON, Maine — The moose is ready to be turned loose once again in the Shiretown as the town is busy gearing up for the 24th annual Moosestompers winter carnival.

 

Moosestompers weekend is billed as three days of winter fun for the family and features a variety of activities for children and adults to enjoy together. Returning favorites include the Hogan Tire Skate Night, sliding under the lights on Derby Hill in Community Park and the ATV/UTV/Snowmobile Light Parade.

According to Nancy Ketch, one of many organizers for the winter carnival, Moosestompers began in 1997 under former Town Manager Alan Bean, who took the idea from the event held on Loring Air Force Base. 

Prior to 1997, a winter carnival called the “YamaFest” was held in the area where Walmart and Hannaford are now located.

Hosting an outdoor celebration in February is always daunting as one never knows what the weather will bring. Some years there has been little snow on the ground, while Houlton Community Park has been buried under the powder other years.

In addition, one never knows if an arctic blast will send temperatures spiraling below zero, as they did in 2018 when an entire day of outdoor events had to be postponed due to sub-zero temperatures.

“We are looking good for conditions,” Ketch said. “We have a good amount of snow right now, so all of the snowy events should go off without an issue. But either way, we approach this event as people getting outside, defying the elements and enjoying winter.”

One of the more popular attractions, the horse-drawn carriage rides, are up in the air as the regular provider of the horses will be unable to attend this year. Ketch said she is working feverishly to find a different person to provide the carriage ride as that is one of the bigger draws each year.

Things kick off 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, as the Millar Civic Center hosts a night of free public skating courtesy of Hogan Tire. Free skate rentals will be provided to those who do not own skates, and prizes will be awarded to children. Concessions will be available for purchase.

Those who are more adventurous can journey to the Military Street Baptist Church for an evening of moonlight snowshoeing through the woods, starting at 9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 1 sees the morning kick off with a breakfast at the Meduxnekeag Snowmobile Club in Littleton, and also features registration for the popular fishing derby and Moosestompers 5K road race. Free ice skating will once again be offered and later that night, the annual snowmobile/ATV/UTV light parade takes place at 5:30 p.m., followed by sliding under the lights of Derby Hill in the park.

Sunday, Feb.  2, is the busiest day of the event with a variety of children’s games planned, including snowmobile rides, hay rides, cross country skiing and the always popular outdoor dance with Morris the Moose.

A full schedule of events can be found in this week’s Houlton Pioneer Times or visit the Moosestompers Facebook page at facebook.com.

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