CAMDEN — The weather this winter may not be frightful, and finding hard water may be impossible in the Midcoast area, however tobogganers never fear, there’s a backup plan for the 32nd U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

The three-day event slated to begin Friday, Feb. 3, and conclude Sunday, Feb. 5, is known to draw thousands between racers and spectators alike.

In 2022, warm conditions left racers with a slushy finish, but did not deter the fun spirit of the event.

Preparation of “Tobogganville” is underway for the 32nd annual National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

This year, the mild winter has many questioning if the event will happen given the lack of ice on the ponds and lakes in the area.

Holly Anderson, toboggan committee co-chair, has said the race is still on even if Hosmer Pond does not ice over with enough ice to be safe for crowds to gather on.

“We are still holding out hope that the weather will cooperate and give us the consistent freezing temperatures we need to build enough ice on the pond to make it safe for crowds to gather on,” Anderson said in an email release to participants.

She added that the event has found themselves in a similar situation before.

In 2016, the event had to be pulled from the pond due to safety concerns after a snowstorm, followed by rain hit the area just days before the event. The mix caused the ice conditions on Hosmer to weaken.

The Snow Bowl’s bunny hill was converted into a single lane chute for racers, and the event was condensed into one day.

“If we have to race on the mountain this year, we will keep it a normal two-day event. The race format will be the same, with preliminary times all day Saturday and finals on Sunday,” Anderson said.

“We hope to make this potentially abnormal race weekend as normal as we can,” she added.

Ice has started to form on Hosmer Pond, however rain in the forecast, along with warm temperatures will deter it from getting thick enough in time for the event. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Currently, the two-person team division is filled. However, there are 10 slots left in the three-person team, and 79 in the four-person team divisions. There are 13 available slots for the Experimental division.

Onsite vendors this year will be Sea Dog Brewing, Hunt + Alpine, and Cheese the Day.

Off-site festivities abound in the downtown Camden area with The David Mallet Band and special guests, The Dinallos, performing Friday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Camden Opera House. The West Bay Rotary Chili Challenge will be held at 16 Bay View Hotel Saturday, Feb. 4, at 4:30 p.m.

Just up the road at The Rockport Opera House on Thursday, Feb. 2, A Winter Jambouree kicks off the weekend of fun at 5 p.m. with choral, folk, jazz, world, indie and reggae entertainers.

Started by Jack Williams and Ken Bailey, the first U.S. National Toboggan Championships were held Feb. 24, 1991. The event has grown in popularity over its three decade span, and hosts 400 teams, more than 1,000 racers and thousands of spectators.

The event is made possible by sponsors, and many volunteers.