In a state where winter can last six months, there are outdoor fans who love the season so much they court snow, even when it’s mild and dry.

From snowmaking at municipal parks, to coastal areas bound and determined to turn an ocean lookout into a ski area, Mainers make winter happen.

“We’re always milder on the coast in terms of temperatures and in terms of snowfall. But it’s still winter. Some people hibernate while other people embrace it. We like to be there to help them embrace it,” said Jeff Kuller, director of the Camden Snow Bowl.

Look out your window for the snow. If it’s not there yet, don’t be fooled. From Cumberland to Camden and up beyond in Maine’s snow belt (which just so happens to encompass a big part of the state), snow is on the way or already there.

“The higher elevations get more snow and get it early in the season. In the higher terrain in Maine, usually it starts in November,” said meteorologist Todd Lericos at the National Weather Service in Caribou.

Even in Cumberland, a few miles from the southern Maine coast, the snow guns were being prepared at the municipal park, Twin Brook.

At this free park that welcomes Nordic skiers from third grade on up, having snow is a must, said town recreation programmer Pete Bingham.

And local volunteers pitch in to help make winter fun happen along miles of cross country trails.

“Someone took an aerial shot that I don’t have. It shows it brown as far as the eye can see, but this white oval at our park,” Bingham said.

That same spirit has spilled over into Portland, where Payson Park got four snow-making guns donated by Freeport resident and skiing enthusiast Ben Susla.

The city park is another example of Mainers making winter outdoor fun happen, be it snowboarding, skiing or tubing.

In the past few years, Sunday River donated terrain park features for snowboarders and skiers to use; Susla added the snow guns last year; and this year Ski Maine got sponsors for snow making.

Plus, starting in January, Ski Maine, a nonprofit dedicated to winter fun in Maine, is going to sponsor each Wednesday free riding and skiing lessons at the municipal park.

“It will get 100 kids out there sliding and snowboarding,” said Jeff Tarling with Portland’s city parks department. “I think we are the only city park on the East Coast with a free sliding hill and ski area.”

Similar events are staged spontaneously at parks around Maine, from the free cross country trails at Acadia National Park to the winter festivals put on at state parks by the Department of Conservation.

And in Maine’s mountain region, where snow is a way of life, snow fun is a regular affair, a veritable gimme.

That’s because of a definite snow belt in Maine, said Lericos with the National Weather Service in Caribou.

Lericos said — and what people in southern Maine might miss — is that from as early as October each year, there is snow in parts of Oxford, Somerset, Franklin, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Aroostook counties.

“It may warm up and get snow again, and you don’t get the deep snow until December. But yeah, absolutely, you can have snow in October,” Lericos said. “Along the southern Maine coastal areas, it’s a whole different area. You see it a little later.”

Even still, snow is courted in the mountains, where Mainers want more of it.

Snow making at ski areas means not only a longer season — in Maine it can mean serving skiers longer than anyone else in the country. This year, Sunday River was the first resort in the country to open because of snow making.

And last year, during the mildest winter in 30 years in Maine, the ski area stayed open six months and six days with the help of snow making, said Sunday River spokesperson Darcy Morse.

It’s not even about bragging rights. Morse said skiers and snowboarders in Maine demand it.

“At the end of the day, what it really translates into for us is the amount of respect and response we get for creating this reputation and owning up to it year after year,” Morse said.

The state-of-the-art low-energy guns at Sunday River and Sugarloaf make snow when it’s as warm as 30 degrees.

And at dozens of other, smaller ski areas in Maine, the desire is the same, to make snowy days the way life should be.

“Our season starts a little later and ends a little earlier. But there’s quite a culture of snow sports here,” said Kuller at the Camden Snow Bowl.

“The challenge is people don’t think a lot about winter if it hasn’t snowed recently. What we say on our website is, ‘You’ve got to ski it to believe it.’ ” 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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