Even if winter isn’t your favorite season, you’ll find a reason to like it after a visit to Auburn’s Winter Festival, which starts this coming weekend.

From the snow playground, bonfires and pond hockey at Walton School to family movie days at Auburn Library, and from a teen discount skiing night with the Lewiston Maineiacs at Lost Valley to a wacky relay race, there’s something for everyone during this 10-day festival.

A highlight will definitely be the Really Ridiculous Relay Race on Feb. 5, the festival’s second weekend. It involves six-member teams and there are three parts to the race.

The first part is a three-person dog sled team — which is really a shopping cart on skis with a musher and two “dogs” pulling the sled. The second leg of the race is a snowshoe sprint, and the finale of the relay is a two-person ride down a hill in a canoe.

“It’s a really wacky event,” said Tracey Steuber, administrative assistant for the city of Auburn and one of the event’s organizers.

Those not up to the relay challenge can opt to take a river raft ride at Lost Valley. Sponsored by the Leavitt/Edward Little girls’ hockey team, the rafts cruising down the mountain should prove a novel experience for those with an adventurous spirit.

This coming Saturday features the three-on-three pond hockey tournament at Walton School.

A fundraiser for the Auburn Youth Hockey League, the tournament draws a big audience. Tim Horton’s of Auburn will be in the area offering free coffee and hot chocolate to spectators.

When the kids get tired of watching hockey, they can check out a winter playground created on the school grounds by Auburn’s Public Works Department.

“They usually make an area to slide with culverts the kids can crawl through. Sometimes tires are used, too. They get really creative with this area,” Steuber said.

The outdoor skating rink at Walton will be open for free public skating throughout the festival (and the rest of the winter). A bonfire sponsored by Tim Horton’s, offering free hot cocoa and coffee, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and again on Feb. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Lost Valley and the Maineiacs have teamed up to host a special Teen Night at the mountain, with discount lift tickets for teenagers from 5 to 9 p.m. this Saturday. There will be an autograph session, and teens can meet Maineiac players.

Other events include snowshoeing and snowmobile riding with the Sno Gypsies Club at Mt. Apatite, an ice fishing derby at Taylor Pond, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Lake Auburn and a variety of special events at Lost Valley and Auburn Library throughout the festival.

“Auburn’s Winter Festival is a celebration of everything winter. I think one of the things this year that was special was the collaboration of all the community organizations in the overall planning process,” Steuber said.

Staff Writer Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:

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