U.S. National Toboggan Championships
Story by Steve Giordano

Photos courtesy Camden Winterfest
High on Adventure, January 2016


Maine Winterfest toboggan chute
Site of the Toboggan Championships in Camden, Maine

A raucous winter carnival, like a Maine winter Mardi Gras, is on right now in Camden, Maine. Actually, it IS a Maine winter Mardi Gras.

It will culminate in the 26th annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships, February 5 – 7, 2016. It is the longest-running signature event of the nine-day Camden Winterfest, which is quickly becoming recognized as Maine’s Mardi Gras!  

  Main Winterfest toboggan team costume   Maine Winterfes costumest  
Toboggan team costumes
Just for fun costumes

Competitors from around the country travel to Camden, Maine, every year fully costumed and with traditional wooden toboggans in tow—some hand-crafted and lubricated with ultra-top secret wax recipes—in the hopes of winning top honors and perhaps even breaking the seven-second record for descending the only 400-foot wooden toboggan chute in the country.  

In addition to the toboggan nationals, Winterfest will host the only nationally sanctioned snow-sculpting competition in Maine, and the CamJam – a freestyle ski and snowboard jam set at the Camden Snow Bowl. No other mountain in the East but the Snow Bowl has views of the Atlantic Ocean, a feature which draws pros and aspiring amateurs alike for the stunning images of their stunts captured against such a unique backdrop. The Toboggan Championships and Winterfest have become major fundraisers for the municipally-owned and -operated Camden Snow Bowl.

  Maine Winterfest, racers line up   Maine winter festival toboggan racers  
Toboggan racers line up at the start
Sheer terrorizing fun

The whole festival brings with it a rich history of community spirit, costumes, traditions and family fun. Information on registration, rules, toboggan regulations, parking and more can be found at www.camdensnowbowl.com or by calling 207-236-3438.

Other highlights include a snow plow parade, fireworks over the harbor, a polar plunge, family entertainment, ski films and a downtown Mardi Gras parade and dance.

  Maine Winterfest camping out   Maine Winterfest  
Staging area for Winterfest
Staging area for toboggan racers

Here's the complete festival and race schedule:

• "Snow Creatures & Castles" Neighborhood Snow Sculptures: All Around Town Awards for the most creative announced at noon on Sunday, January 31

• Frost Heave Challenge begins, runs through the week, vote for your favorite themed drink

• Community Ice Festival: noon to 3 p.m., Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre
• Community ice carving and hot food outdoors, live music and crafts for children indoors
• CamJam Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding Demos: Harbor Park • Maine State Snow Sculpting Championships: Village Green, sculptors work all weekend, judging takes place Sunday at noon
• Winterfest Polar Plunge for Coastal Mountains Land Trust: 2:30 p.m., Harbor Park
• Ski Film, "Paradise Waits": 6:45 p.m., Camden Opera House, $12 in advance, $15 at the door, kids under 16, $8, sponsored by Ragged Mountain Ski Club

• CamJam Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding Competition: Harbor Park
• Awards for U.S. Sanctioned Maine State Snow Sculpting Championships and
• "Snow Creatures & Castles" Neighborhood Snow Sculptures: noon, Village Green

Ski area closed

Ski area closed
• Movie, "Groundhog Day": 6 p.m., Camden Public Library, free

• Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers: 6 p.m., Camden Opera House, $5, children 5 & under free

• Mardi Gras Concert: CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band with opening act, the Dolphin Strikers: 7       p.m., Camden Opera House, $18 in advance, $22 at the door. Tickets at www.camdenoperahouse.com or local outlets

• U.S. National Toboggan Championships: Camden Snow Bowl
• Toboggan Chute, 10 a.m.-2 p.m, open to the public (conditions permiting); 3-5 p.m., first runs
• Snow Plow Parade: 6:30 p.m., downtown Camden
• Fireworks over the Harbor: 7 p.m., Harbor Park

• U.S. National Toboggan Championships: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Camden Snow Bowl
• Bus Shuttle: 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., service between Village Green and Snow Bowl
• Winter Fairy Fun: 1 p.m., Camden Public Library, author's stories, crafts and activities, free
• Chili Challenge: 4-7 p.m., First Congregational Church
• Ski Film, "Sammy C. Project": 6:45 p.m., Camden Opera House, $12 in advance, $15 at the door, benefits the  Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation
• Mardi Gras Sidewalk Parade: 6:30 p.m., meet in Harbour Park, head toward Bay View Street
• Mardi Gras of Maine Block Party and Dance featuring Just Teachers: 7 p.m., 16 Bay View Street Hotel

• U.S. National Toboggan Championships, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Camden Snow Bowl


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