Major winter storms are generally cause for event cancellations, but today’s wintry weather is cause for excitement for the organizers of one central Maine event this weekend.

The Maine Pond Hockey Classic — a two-day event beginning Saturday on China Lake — will go on despite a forecast of a significant storm Friday and Saturday. A blanket of snow will help event volunteers shore up three rinks that are under construction, according to a volunteer.

The National Weather Service in Gray issued a winter storm watch for Friday and Saturday in Franklin, Kennebec and Somerset counties. The forecast calls for snow accumulations of 14 to 24 inches in the region.

Fifteen youth and adult hockey teams from Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Nova Scotia will meet on three hockey rinks on the northeast corner of China Lake, off Lakeview Drive in China. The first game begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and playoffs will continue through Sunday afternoon.

Event volunteer Bert Languet was on the lake ice Thursday, flooding the rinks with water. He said the snow will be a good thing.

“We need the snow, actually,” he said. “If we have snow, we can build the banks and make the rinks better defined. Plus, it’s easier for people to stand on (snow) than glare ice.”

The National Weather Service calls for snow to taper off Saturday morning and end in the afternoon, but the wind could be brutal. The service is calling for steady wind at 24 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. The high temperature could be 16 degrees.

Elsewhere in the region, at least one other event will go on — the 20th annual Chocolate Festival in Fairfield.

“The event will not be canceled or postponed,” Town Manager Josh Reny said. “We’re hoping the worst part of the storm will have passed by Saturday morning.”

The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Fairfield Community Center, 61 Water St. About 25 vendors have confirmed they will participate. The event typically draws more than 600 people, Reny said.

Meanwhile, the organizer of a father-daughter dance in Belgrade is hopeful that the party will happen Friday night.

“I’m an optimist,” said Velencia Schubert, recreation director for the town of Belgrade. “I can’t help myself. They can come on snowmobiles. We have that kind of place.”

She said the annual event is an important one for the 80 fathers and daughters planning to attend at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons.

Schubert said she would decide by 3 p.m. today and call each parent if the dance is postponed. The snow date is Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

“I feel like it’s not going to be so much that I want to disappoint all those little girls,” she said.

Some events scheduled for today have been postponed, however.

The annual Father-Daughter Dance scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Friday at Waterville Junior High School has been postponed, according to organizers.

The dance, hosted by the Parks & Recreation Department, has been rescheduled for the same time and place March 1.

A screening of “The House I Live In,” scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Railroad Square Cinema as part of Maine International Film Festival’s MIFF in the Morning series has been postponed one week to Feb. 16.

A memorial service for Maj. Gregg Sanborn of the Maine Warden Service has also been postponed because of the storm. Visiting hours for Sanborn, who died Tuesday after a long fight with cancer, will be 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, 15 Oak Grove Road in Vassalboro. A celebration of Sanborn’s life will begin at 11 a.m. Monday at the same location.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239
[email protected]

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