The snow is now ready and waiting at many of Maine’s ski resorts. Groomers are pacing the trails and base lodges are filling with the scent of warm soups and chili.

Even the lifts have awakened from their summer slumber and have begun escorting the season’s first skiers and snowboarders to higher ground.

And at Sunday River in Newry, Eddy the Yeti has come out of hiding.

Though a naturally timid creature, the yeti has been known to ditch the confines of his solitary retreat in the woods to socialize with mountain visitors and even take to the slopes when conditions are good. And rumor on the mountain is there will be plenty of Eddy the Yeti sightings during Sunday River’s Winterfest next weekend.

Winterfest kicks off the season at Sunday River with a mountain dining experience, food festival, free night skiing, “Go Back in Time” party, fireworks and winter zip line tours.

“It’s a fun event,” said Darcy Morse, director of communications at Sunday River. “A great excuse to play during the day and make an evening of it as well.”

The festivities begin Friday night with Dining at the Peak, an uphill dining experience different from your average apres-ski meal. Diners will ride the chondola 2,100 feet up to the mid-mountain Peak Lodge, where they’ll find complimentary champagne, live music, hors d’oeuvres and a stellar view. “It’s stunning,” said Morse.

The dinner menu includes brandied pumpkin almond soup, roasted tenderloin of beef with blueberry demi-glace, honey-balsamic glazed Atlantic salmon or poached mushroom ravioli and raspberry lavender shortcake for dessert. Seatings are from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and cost $59 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 824-5076.

The good eating doesn’t stop there. Saturday boasts the Many Flavors of Sunday River food festival from 7 to 9 p.m. in the upper food court at South Ridge Lodge. Bethel-area restaurants will showcase menu items, and specialty beers, wines and local spirits will be available. Admission is $15, though anyone who brings in an old ski jacket to donate to Coats for Kids will get $5 off the admission price.

During the day, the kids can hang out with Santa in the Discovery Center from 3 to 5 p.m.

History buffs can meet Dave Irons, author of “Sunday River: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future” during a book signing from noon to 3 p.m. at Sunday River Sports in the South Ridge Lodge.

And from 4 to 8 p.m. the skiing is free at South Ridge and North Peak in honor of the first night ski of the season.

The Foggy Goggle is hosting an old-school Christmas party, themed “Go Back in Time,” with the help of ’80s band Time Pilots at 3 p.m. and Motor Booty Affair at 7 p.m. Attendees are urged to ditch the snow pants for bell bottoms and swap skis for platform shoes. “They’re encouraged to dress up,” said Morse. “It makes the evening more fun for everyone.” And folks who dress up are promised a Christmas gift from the Foggy Goggle.

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the night sky gets some holiday lighting of its own with a fireworks display. The best viewing spots are slopeside at South Ridge Lodge or deckside at the Foggy Goggle.

Sunday happens to be World Snowboarding Day and Sunday River is offering free snowboard rentals to kids or adults who want to give it a whirl. Also worth trying, the winter zip line tours. The tours include six lines, ranging from 100 to 300 feet in length, with speeds up to 25 miles per hour. The tours are $59 with a lift ticket or season pass, or $69 without. Interested zip liners should register in advance by calling 800-543-2754. Tours run at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. during Winterfest weekend.

Morse said Sunday River also hopes to have its racing zip lines up in time for Winterfest. The parallel lines run 750 feet and allow two people to zip down the mountain at the same time.

Winterfest is proof there’s more than just powder to play in at Sunday River. It’s an eventful weekend and one Morse says visitors can feel good about. “Those admission costs go into a charity trust, which then benefits local nonprofits,” she said. “So it’s a good cause.”

And a chance to spot a yeti on the mountain. Win-win.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected]