Camden Maine Winterfest is another reason to get outdoors and enjoy what midcoast Maine has to offer. New York Times Travel speaks of the U. S. National Toboggan Championship as a reason to gather in the cold, dark months of the year to have some fun! The Camden Maine Winterfest began as an extension of that fun. It is more than a week long event. It starts on Saturday, February 4 with community ice sculpting in the Camden Public Library Amphitheater.
One of the many things that fascinates me about midcoast Maine is the tremendous sense of community. We attend the various events each year and enjoy watching and feeling that genuine cooperative spirit. Being a relative newcomer to this event (2017 will be our third), I did some research to learn more about Camden Maine Winterfest. 2017 is the 15th year of the event. According to this article in the Bangor Daily News, the initial concept for the event was in response to a troubled time. “As a response, adults and high school students joined together to create positive ideas for the town. One of those ideas was to “enliven” the parks and create ways for the community to come together during the wintertime.” (Mainers appear to be quite resilient that way; see this blog to see another example).
From inception, the community ice carving in the amphitheater is the centerpiece of Camden Maine Winterfest. Community groups of all ages participate in the event. Master carver Tim Pierce provides a demonstration of ice carving techniques a week before Camden Maine Winterfest begins. You can read more about that here.
On the day of the community ice carvings (this year, February 4, 2017), there are multiple indoor and outdoor activities. There is music piped outdoors for carvers and spectators. Inside the Camden Public Library, there is live music, hot food, story hour and children’s crafts.
Outdoor Camden Maine Winterfest Activities
The CamJam Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding Competition starts at 9am on February 4 in Harbor Park and continues until 2pm. You can walk back and forth across the street from Harbor Park to the Camden Amphitheater to enjoy watching both the ice carving and CamJam competition. The CamJam Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding Competition continues on Sunday morning for the 16 and underage group until noon. If you come for the weekend, stay at the Hawthorn Inn. We are the closest bed and breakfast to the Camden Amphitheater and Harbor Park.
Following the CamJam, there will be Family Snow Sculptures & Igloos. I cannot yet provide much detail on this activity. It was intended to start last year, but Mother Nature turned up the heat and there was not enough snow for this activity. I am anxious to see it this year.
February 10, 11, and 12 are the U.S. National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl. There will be shuttle buses running from the downtown Village Green to the Snow Bowl.
Before you board the bus, take some time to watch the snow sculptors. Camden is Maine’s only nationally-sanctioned snow sculpture competition. The sculptors create masterpieces from 8- by 4-foot blocks of snow. The winner then represents Maine in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Indoor Camden Winterfest Activities
When you are ready to come in from the cold or don’t like the outdoors, there are plenty of indoor family friendly activities all week long. There will be a movie one evening in the library and a Puppeteer at the Opera House
To really heat things up, CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band will be playing at the Camden Opera House on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. C.J., son of Zydeco King Clifton Chenier, is Grammy nominated and his band features a number of highly talented musicians. CJ played Winterfest last year and had almost the entire audience up on their feet and clapping their hands. The washboard player was phenomenal and amazingly energetic. I was exhausted just watching him and can’t wait to see this year’s show. Don’t miss it!
Maine Sport Outfitters will host the Banff Mountain Film Festival – World Tour on both February 10 and 11 at the Camden Hills HS Strom Auditorium in Rockport. There will be a different provocative film each evening exploring life in the mountains. They highlight remote cultures, intense expeditions into exotic landscapes and bring adrenaline-packed sports into sharp focus.
There will also be a Downtown Dance featuring “Mid Life Crisis” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 16 Bay View Hotel.
Two winter-fun weekends, a great concert and family-friendly activities sandwiched in the middle are a perfect recipe for a winter staycation. Come enjoy the fun!!