With the state’s largest ice fishing derby on Sebago Lake coming up, and festivals taking place across Maine, winter fun is definitely under way.

And in Portland more is being done to change the stay-inside mentality in a winter of constant snowfall.

After being canceled last year, the second Snowman Adventure Race next Saturday will make the Eastern Promenade the venue for a kooky collection of costumed sledders and competitive clowns.

And for the first time, Portland Trails is introducing more folks to wintertime with its snowshoeing series.

The Snowman race was rolled out by the folks at Casco Bay Sports in 2009 to help urbanites who love winter celebrate it with spirit.

The sports company’s owners wanted to give back to their community and a relay race involving costumes and sledding seemed a good way.

The first year was a hit, with a few dozen two-person teams running, biking and sledding.

Casco Bay Sports owner Pat Hackleman said this fundraiser for Portland Trails will definitely be an annual affair.

It is less about the 4.5-mile bike ride around Back Cove, the 2.3-mile run around the Eastern Promenade or the team sled to the finish. Mostly, it’s about the costumes.

“Way more of the participants will be in costumes. If you do not come with a costume theme, you may or may not feel out of place,” Hackle- man said.

This winter, he is certain, will be a “breakout year.” The relay race is not heavily publicized or promoted, he said, because it already has a following among winter sports fans.

“It’s sort of viewed as a little bit of a cult classic,” Hackle- man said. “We like the cozy aspect of it.”

That doesn’t mean the colorful, costumed winter cyclists and runners don’t spread their love of winter.

And that affection for snow fun may be spreading through Portland.

This winter for the first time Portland Trails is leading snowshoe hikes — and they’re an instant hit.

Last Saturday, 25 trekkers turned out and all 20 pairs of snowshoes were borrowed for the nonprofit group’s guided hike.

The folks at 20-year-old Portland Trails thought how their amazing coastal trails are relished in the summer, but under-used in winter. The next three snowshoe hikes are part of their attempt to change that.

“One of our big goals it to get people to realize the trails are not just for walking, but can be used year-round,” said outreach director Rachael Weyand.

The organization is lending snowshoes to its members for free, and to anyone not a member for $5. “Last year we didn’t have many borrowed. This year, they’ve been out every weekend,” Weyand said.

Weyand expects similar turnouts for upcoming Portland snowshoe hikes, and hopes those new to snowshoeing will show.

The next hikes will be held along the Presumpscot River Trail, in the Presumpscot Preserve and in Riverton Trolley Park. All the Saturday morning hikes last about an hour.

“It helps them realize they can go for a walk, that the trails are not too treacherous,” Weyand said. 

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

[email protected]