SKOWHEGAN — Kathy Estes came pedaling her fat bike Sunday across Lake George as greeters cheered her arrival at the shore.

Estes, 60, of Madison was smiling, despite a bitter wind blowing off the frozen lake and temperatures that dipped into the teens.

She had just completed a winter triathlon that included snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking on about 5 miles of trails at Lake George Regional Park

“It was a fun experience,” Estes said, pushing the bike up the snowy hill. “It was harder than I thought. It was very difficult.”

Paige Gilbert, 14, left, Kate Kelso, 15, holding dog, Bohdi, and Brooke Gilbert, 17, cheer for family members Sunday competing in the fat bike portion of the Somerset Snowfest Triathlon at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. Teams and individuals competed in snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat bike racing during the triathlon.

It was Estes’ first time competing in such an event, which she finished in an hour and 14 minutes. She vowed to do it again in the future.

“It was always something I wanted to do,” she said. “I would do it again. I’d probably train a little harder.”

The sun was shining Sunday for the final day of Somerset SnowFest, a three-day winter festival coordinated by Main Street Skowhegan and Lake George Regional Park.

Activities included an ice fishing derby, dog sled rides, kids’ box sled races, an ice bar and the popular equestrian skijoring competition, which took place Saturday at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds and drew about 2,000 people, according to Kristina Cannon, executive director of the Main Street program.

Skijoring involves a horse and rider pulling a skier around the track.

Cannon, standing Sunday on the lake’s western shore as fishing shacks dotted the ice behind her for the fishing derby, said Sugarloaf loaned its groomer for the skijoring event on the track at the fairgrounds.

“We had some really, really good skiers and riders yesterday,” she said.

Cannon arrived at the lake Sunday just after 8 a.m. and said the weekend events had been fantastic.

“We are very pleased with the turnout,” she said, “and it’s a great way to showcase the area.”

She characterized the park as a gem.

“We’re looking forward to utilizing it more this summer with free, outdoor programming,” she said.

Children squealed as they flew down a hill on plastic sleds near a park building warmed by a wood stove, where people inside were selling snacks.

Dog Bohdi, right, greets owner Corina Gilbert of Noridgewock on Sunday as Gilbert begins the fat bike portion of the Somerset Snowfest Triathlon at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. A cheering section for Gilbert and other competitors is shown at left. Teams and individuals competed in snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat bike racing during the triathlon.

Darryll White, chief park administrator, said about 25 people of all ages took part in the triathlon, in teams of three or solo. They competed on trails in both Skowhegan and Canaan, including the Warren Trail, Modin Trail and Townsend Family Trail.

On Saturday, a downhill kayaking race also was popular, drawing 17 participants.

“We’re looking to grow this event — we believe this event has  great potential as a destination mainstay in Maine,” White said of the SnowFest.

Community, Main Street and Americorps volunteers helped with the fest. White said the park plans to start renovating buildings at the park this summer, including five cabins, the social hall and dance hall. The park plans to enter the wedding market to raise funds for the facility, he said.

Cruisin Country 93.5 broadcast the weekend fest live, according to volunteer Gary Poulin. Lisa Riportella, who co-hosts the morning show on the station, said the park and Main Street did a great job on the events.

“From the greeters that help you park to the people selling hot chocolate, it’s been remarkable,” Riportella said. “We need more of this in our area. With everything that pulls people apart and makes us think of our differences, this is just a powerful thing that brings us together, and we need more of this in our community.”

Out on the island, which connects to the west side of the park via a narrow roadway, volunteers were hosting the Frostbite Bar, devised of ice chunks White and Justin Spencer, the park resource manager, had cut from the lake.

As bitter, cold winds blew across the island, Alan Haberstock, a member of the park’s board of directors, was selling coffee brandy, vodka drinks and ale.

Nancy Ames, who has served for 20 years on the park’s board, also was on hand. She was volunteering not only for the park, but also for the General Federation of Womens Clubs/Semper Fidelis, of which she is a member.

“Everything that’s raised here will be divided between Lake George and Main Street Skowhegan — anything above the expenses,” she said.


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