As much as it pains me to say it, we’re entering the twilight of ski season here in Maine.

Now, when I say “ski season,” I mean a specific type of skiing: going to pretty much any local resort and taking a few turns on your skis or board.

Yes, there will be resorts in the Northeast that stay open until April and even May. Yes, you’ll be able to find places to hike, from Tuckerman’s Ravine to Baxter State Park, that hold onto snow late into the spring. But even then, the skiable snow is disappearing like grains of sand in an hourglass.

It’s easy to lament the end of ski season. I’ll certainly be pouring one out for my skis, which will soon begin their long months in the attic of the farmhouse.

However, there’s plenty to be thankful about. With mild weather, warm sun and a snowy winter, we’re in for a great spring to send off ski season.

And nobody, but nobody, does spring skiing — and end of season celebrations — quite like Maine.

One of the coolest things about the end-of-year bashes at Maine’s mountains is that they’re entertaining even if you’ve never used skis or a snowboard. Snow nut or not, concerts, wacky races, barbecues and parties are a great excuse to head for some of the most picturesque parts of the state.

Shawnee Peak is hosting its 4th annual Mattress Race at 11 a.m. Saturday. It’s exactly what it sounds like — a race down the main slope on mattresses; no cribs, air mattresses or water beds allowed. You’re allowed up to four riders (pilot would probably be too charitable a term) on each bed, and the fastest team wins a brand-new queen-sized mattress and box spring from America’s Mattress & Furniture Gallery.

To keep things colorful, creative decoration of the mattresses is encouraged. The audience has the opportunity to vote for their favorite cushion, and the winner gets a prize from the Subway Restaurant in Bridgton.

No mattress to race? Also on Saturday, Saddleback has its 7th annual Cardboard Box race.

The mountain picks a theme and encourages racers to build structures based on it from nothing but cardboard and duct tape. Break out your Millenium Falcons and TARDISes, because this year’s theme is science fiction.

At Saddleback, “race” is a bit of a misnomer — there’s no prize there for speed, just creativity. The event is also a good option for the more timid among us, since you don’t have to ride down with your creation.

Maine’s biggest resorts have the wildest ways of seeing off the season in style. After the wacky races, we have Sunday River’s Parrot Head Weekend and Sugarloaf’s Reggae Fest to look forward to in April.

Though it starts on April Fool’s Day, Parrot Head Weekend is no joke. Concerts start at 2 p.m. on Friday and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and run until last call both days. The music has a tropical feel, with no less than three Jimmy Buffet cover bands.

Up on the hill, skiers and riders can hit the two-day Bust and Burn mogul competition. The perennial amateur competition returns to White Heat this year, and offers every competitor a run down the course on Saturday. Sunday also features a pond skimming contest, a favorite at ski areas statewide.

You don’t even have to put your equipment on to compete during the Sunday River weekend. You can try your hand at a Spam Carving Contest on Saturday, or chow down in the Key Lime Pie Eating Contest on Sunday.

The unofficial cap to the season in Maine is Sugarloaf’s massive Reggae Fest, which enters its 23rd year in 2011. Running April 14 to 17, the festival features nearly a dozen reggae bands playing in Sugarloaf’s bars and base area.

The event is fairly notorious — it’s the only East Coast festival to make Ski magazine’s list of the Top Ten Spring Parties in North America in 2009.

If the melting snow in Maine is tempting you to pack up your gear, hold on!

There’s plenty of ski season left in the state, even if some of it will be spent on mattresses or skimming across ponds.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime ski enthusiast. He writes this column every other week, sharing the space with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at:

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