At this year’s ice fishing derby, you’ll be able to do a lot more than just catch fish.

For the first time, organizers are setting up an Ice Mall, featuring the goods and services of local merchants who want to capitalize on the popularity of the five-year-old event.

The Ice Mall will be set up in a tent on Raymond Beach. If there’s enough interest among merchants, a second tent will be set up, said Nicole Lajoie, assistant manager of Mechanic Savings Bank’s Windham branch and Ice Mall organizer.

“The idea behind the Ice Mall grew out of trying to decide how we were going to grow the event and attract more people. We already attract ice fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts, but they have significant others who may want to come out,” she said.

The derby already attracts vendors selling food and fishing gear. This year, vendors will include furniture stores, wreath-makers, clothiers and others.

“The Clothing Wearhouse is excited about participating in the fishing derby’s Ice Mall”, said Dennis Ackroyd, store manager. “It is a good opportunity to support our community, as well as a shopping alternative.”

Jane Sperlazzi, owner of Dino International Furs located in South Portland, decided to participate in the Ice Mall because the store’s inventory is mainly winter garments. “Dino International Furs is interested in establishing a persence in the Lakes Region,” said Sperlazzi. “We want to introduce our business in that area.” Dino International Furs is donating an item to Camp Sunshine for future auction purposes.

This year’s derby is set for Feb. 24-26, and the Ice Mall will be open Feb. 25-26. Lajoie said organizers will not charge vendor fees this year, to help attract more participants. They are suggesting that vendors donate a portion of their proceeds to the charities and organizations supported by the derby, which include Maine Children’s Cancer Program, Camp Sunshine and Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

Thousands of people attend the derby, making it one of the Lakes Region’s most popular events of the year.

Businesses who want to participate in the Ice Mall should contact Lajoie at 318-9254.

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