Whether they planned to watch the Super Bowl or spend their evening listening to classical music, more than 100 area residents came to Viles Arboretum on Sunday for an event that had little to do with the Patriots or Falcons — unless they happened to spot a peregrine stranded in central Maine for the winter.

Rather, they tromped on snowshoes and glided on skis around a 2-mile loop in the Augusta wilderness, stopping at four different stations for hot chocolate, corn chowder, bratwursts, roast turkey, vegetarian lasagna, various forms of beans and other dishes.

Chuck Cohen came to the event with snowshoes and a Patriots jersey with the number 50 on it, something he and a group of friends had made on their 50th birthdays. In the evening, he’d be watching the big game at his Monmouth home.

“But there’s a lot of time before then,” Cohen said. “No need to sit in front of a TV all day. It was a good day to be out.”

The outdoor enthusiasts were there for the 13th annual Super Bowl Sunday Table Tour, an event that’s designed to raise awareness and funds for the publicly accessible grounds on Hospital Street, which total 224 acres and include trails for walking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding and mountain biking.

“It’s really to introduce people to the arboretum, to get people out exercising in a social event,” said Mark DesMeules, executive director of Viles Arboretum, which is run as a nonprofit organization. “It’s a novelty serving people hot food in the woods.”

At four locations in the arboretum, volunteers and board members were dishing out the food, all of which was donated and kept warm by gas burners. Visitors paid an admission fee and followed a packed snow trail to reach each of them. For warmth, fires were burning at the different stations.

DesMeules said he hoped the table tour would draw attention to artworks and displays that have been added around the arboretum as part of an initiative launched three years ago to make it a more inviting and interesting space.

“This was a very sleepy place for a long time,” he said. “It was not very welcoming.”

The organization has tripled its membership in the last four years and doubled the number of visitors to the arboretum in the last two years, according to DesMeules.

Mary Batt traveled to the arboretum on Sunday with Toby, a 4-year-old miniature Australian shepherd with blue eyes and a jacket identifying him as a therapy dog. “If I lived closer, I’d be here all the time,” said Batt, who was on skis and also rides her horse in the arboretum when it’s warmer.

The temperatures were hovering above freezing with a breeze picking up as the event progressed, and warmth was a relative concept for those dispensing the victuals on Sunday.

“This isn’t too bad,” said Dean Corner, a former president of the arboretum’s board who was pouring cups of cocoa. “It’s been warm and slushy before, and there have been years when the wind is fierce and you feel like your face is frozen.”

At another food station, Stanley Novak of Old Fort Western, the historic landmark in Augusta, was scooping butter bean soup from a large, black pot.

“Three hundred years ago, you would have been eating this,” he said. “It was good for warming people up.”

Novak was wearing high socks, breeches that cut off just below the knee and a black frock coat. Also from Old Fort Western was Susan Reidy, who was cooking johnny cakes and wearing a woman’s equivalent of the old timey garb.

On a day when many Mainers would be cheering on the New England Patriots, they looked the part.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

filed under: