What a difference a year can make.

Last year for the Lake George Regional Park annual winter carnival and ice fishing derby, there was so little snow that buckets of it had to be trucked in for the popular children’s Box Sled Derby. This year there has been plenty of snow, which has been groomed and will be treated again before Saturday’s big race, park Resource Manager Derek Ellis said.

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the winter carnival and fishing derby at the park, which straddles the Skowhegan-Canaan town line off U.S. Route 2, east of downtown Skowhegan.

The carnival, with food, fires and family fun is set for 10 a.m. with registration for the Box Sled Derby on the west side of the park, closest to Skowhegan.

Sleds in the derby will be judged for appearance and creativity at 10:30 a.m., and the races are scheduled to start at 11 a.m., with judging for longest slide, best wreck and quickest run, according to Ellis. The focus of the judging will be on creativity, he said. It’s a day for the whole family to get out and have fun, he said.

“The winter carnival is just that. It’s designed as something for families to do in the winter, get out and have some fun,” he said. “The fishing derby is the same; it’s designed to be a family day and a reason to get outside and enjoy Maine in the winter.”


Ellis added that Saturday’s winter carnival coincides this year with the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, with outdoor events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in several areas of the state.

Fishing derby registration forms will be available from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday and on Saturday starting at 5:30 a.m. at the boat launch on the Canaan side of the lake. The derby entry fee is $10 per participant. The derby will run from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday. All fish must be entered before the end of the contest and must be caught by a registered participant, according to Ellis.

Fish will be judged in five categories — trout, bass, pickerel, white perch and yellow perch — with prizes in each category and door prizes. Fish will be measured by length, not weight. A complete list of rules and prizes will be available at the time of registration for all participants.

Over on the west side of the lake the Box Sled Derby also has a set of rules.

All sleds must be constructed from cardboard. Skis, sleds, or runners are not allowed, but tape to hold the sled together is permitted.

“This is a kids’ event and sleds should be built by the kids themselves with parental help when needed,” Ellis said. “Awards will be given in several categories, which includes, but not limited to, most creative.”


Ellis said the idea behind the sled races is for children to be creative rather than just making something that will slide down the hill. Last year’s entries included cardboard tractors, bulldozers and trucks, along with princess racers, a wedge of Swiss cheese, a Three Blind Mice sled and a king-size toilet complete with cardboard flush and real toilet paper.

“The more creative they are, the more apt they are to be rewarded,” he said. “It’s about being creative and original. We get kids out there in the wintertime with their families.”

There will be a chili cook-off about 11 a.m. near the sled race site, with a $10 entry fee. Chili should be in a container that can be heated directly over a wood-fired grill.

The Wesserunsett Arts Council will be doing snow sculptures. There will be warming fires outside with s’mores provided by the Semper Fidelis Club. The local Boy Scout troop will staff the warming hut, where food also will be for sale.

Bob McGorty, who took over as the director of Lake George Regional Park from Jeff McCabe last summer, said he will attend the carnival this year, but his role at the park has been limited mostly to just the busy summer months of swimming, day camp and other activities. Ellis will perform his duties during the winter.

“I’ll be there Saturday, looking over things, but Derek’s had the major role in the carnival for many years now,” McGorty said. “It was a good summer and we had a good crew, and it went well.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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