Moosestompers Festival attendance rivals other big years

4 weeks ago

HOULTON, Maine – In a snow mound sledding feat that looked more like braving white water rapids, eight-year-old Ava Pelletier maneuvered her raft-like sled over high peaks and twists on Saturday during Houlton’s annual winter festival. 

Pelletier, who made the nearly four-hour trip to the Moosestompers Festival from Campbellton, New Brunswick with her family, was making the best of it. And despite falling temperatures and whipping winds, she was set to sled under the lights Saturday night at Houlton’s Derby Hill.

The 28th annual Moosestompers three-day weekend event kicked off Friday night and ran through a sunny and packed Kids Day on Sunday. The weather was a welcome change from last year’s 65-below Fahrenheit temperatures on Moosestompers weekend.

“We felt like it was a great weekend,” said Nancy Ketch, director of economic and community development. “And yesterday was a beautiful day and it was nonstop all day, it was just awesome. If the sun is out it makes all the difference in the world.”

Devin Hockney, 13, Houlton is on his way back up Derby Hill during the Moosestompers Festival this weekend. (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

The weather resulted in attendance that rivaled the huge turnout two years ago, Ketch said.

“There were so many smiles on their faces,” she said. “And that to me is the measure of success. Three our four parents came up to me and said ‘thank you for doing this.’”

The annual event, a last hurrah for winter, gives families a chance to sled in the day and under the lights at night, to ice skate, snow shoe, cross country ski, watch fireworks, get hot cups of cocoa, warm-up by the bonfire and enjoy tons of kids events like hay wagon rides for free.

One of this year’s hottest attractions was the kids’ Snow Dance to the Dua Lipa song from the Barbie movie and the half-dollar scramble. .

Chase Hockney of Houlton takes a wild ride down Derby Hill on Saturday during the annual Moosestompers Festival.  (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

“It is meant to be a community event,” Ketch said. “It’s amazing the number of people who sponsor this event to make it free.”

Ketch said that she was a bit concerned that some people might redirect resources this year to the eclipse, but they did not and they actually got three new sponsors and some that increased their sponsorship level, she said.

There are not a lot of times that you can go out and have a full day of fun with a family and not spend anything or spend very little, Ketch said. 

The official winter festival hay wagon takes Moosestompers attendees on ride through downtown Houlton from Community Park during the weekend winter festival. (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

“Moosestompers is a truly collaborative effort. ,” Ketch said. “There are many individuals that help make the event happen and we are so grateful to the sponsors that support the festivities and allow so many of the activities to be free.”