The annual Winter Carnival on Highland Lake in Bridgton usually draws about 2,500 people each year for contests, music, fireworks and more. Contributed / Greater Bridgton Chamber of Commerce

A spicy chili eating contest, kids ice fishing derby, polar dip, rail jam, fireworks and more are among the highlights of the daylong Maine Lakes Winter Carnival at Highland Lake Beach in Bridgton Feb. 17.

The Greater Bridgton Chamber of Commerce is bringing back all the staples attendees have come to know and love from the annual event.

Most years the festival will draw around 2,500, depending on the weather, said Angie Cook, the chamber’s executive director who is now in her 12th year of organizing it.

“It’s grown so much that we’re shutting off the road,” Cook said, to reserve that space for food vendors.

Horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Feb. 17 Winter Festival in Bridgton. Contributed / Greater Bridgton Chamber of Commerce

“It’s really an awesome event. I enjoy seeing the community come together, and the partnership with the chamber and other businesses to make this happen,” she said.

One of the main events is the rail jam for skiers and snowboarders at Highland Lake Beach. Age groups are 6-14 and 15 and older and the entry fee is $15. Registration starts at 10 a.m. for the 1:30 p.m. jam.


Also at 1:30 p.m. is the spicy chili eating contest. To register, send your name, age and town to

The “Freezing for a Reason” polar dip at 1 p.m. this year will benefit Harvest Hills Animal Shelter. Pre-registration is required for the dip at

Throughout the day, there will be horse-drawn wagon rides, live music and an ice rink at Old Town Hall.

A fireworks display will be held over the lake at 6 p.m., which Cook said is another of the festival’s most beloved events.

Admission buttons that allow access to activities like the ice bar for those 21 and over, a juggling performance and the wagon rides will be available for purchase for $5, free for kids 5 and under. The buttons will also serve as participants’ raffle tickets for cash prizes.

The carnival will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information can be found at

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