CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Caitlin Turner of Farmington says she looks forward to competing in the snowshoe races, but another event is her real favorite.

“I’m going to the dance,” said Turner, who planned her day around Monday evening’s victory dance at the 42nd Special Olympics Maine Winter Games.

Turner, 32, and many of her teammates have been going to the annual competition for years, and they always get the most excited to meet all of the people, said coach Mary Rankin.

“We’re here making friends,” said Turner’s teammate Sherrie Zlotnick, 33, of Wilton.

The group of six athletes was joined at Sugarloaf Mountain on Monday by about 500 other competitors from across Maine and hundreds of volunteers, friends and family members.

Friends were easy to spot, thanks to a national campaign this year to collect handmade scarves for the games, said Lisa Bird, public relations director for Special Olympics Maine.

All of the people in the games received turquoise and blue scarves, which started pouring in weeks before the games, Bird said.

She said an online effort called Scarves for Special Olympics spread through social networks, and the Maine chapter went from about 50 scarves a couple of weeks ago to more than 1,500 by Sunday.

The hundreds of competitors, volunteers and fans showed off their colors during a parade around the ski resort, culminating in the opening ceremonies and the lighting of the Olympic torch. “It’s just such an outward display of the unity of the games,” Bird said of the parade.

Athletes compete in five sports involving skiing, snowshoeing and skating. The games end today at noon.

Many of the groups stayed at condominiums and the hotel on Sugarloaf Mountain, which has hosted the event for 29 years. In addition to the competitions, participants attended a community supper, a dance and a fireworks display.

Sugarloaf safety officials held meetings with volunteers and coaches Sunday to prepare them for Monday’s frigid temperatures, Bird said. They went over everything from responding to injuries to recognizing early signs of frostbite.

More coaches also went through the competition’s training sessions this year, said Scott Gregory of the Maine Special Olympics chapter’s board of directors. For the first time, at least one coach from each of the 64 teams had to be certified through the training program, he said.

Coaches learned about the rules and training techniques to better prepare athletes, and many of the lessons translating beyond the games, he said.

Gregory told the Farmington group that learning to put on snowshoes without help is like being independent at home.

“This group is doing it at home, so they sure can do it out here,” he said.