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Sunday River fest pairs skiers, Key lime pie

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March 30, 2008

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if global warming continues unabated, the only place left in New England good for skiing by the end of the century will be western Maine. Given that the forecasts for next weekend are not quite that dire, conditions should be great for the 21st annual Parrot Head/Bust 'n' Burn Festival at Sunday River ski resort in Bethel.

Skiing magazine ranks it one of the year's top mountain skiing festivals. What makes it great? It's held at the bottom of the long, super-steep White Heat expert trail. You may not be in that league, but spring temperatures soften the snow, which can make for a kinder, gentler time on the slopes.

Big crowds turn out Saturday and Sunday to watch more than 200 skiers of all ages compete in races, and the screaming is as enthusiastic for the 6-year-old racers as for the more accomplished.

The festival also doubles as a nonstop party with a spring break-beach vibe, complete with Jimmy Buffett cover bands, Key lime pie-eating contests, and a giant tank of frozen margaritas. What kind of blender do you use for that many margaritas? They drop an outboard motor into the mix and let it rip. If this sounds too decadent, consider the cause: Proceeds go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Last year the weekend raised about $20,000.

Sunday River Parrot Head/Bust 'n' Burn Festival, Bethel, Maine, April 4-6. Free. A ski and stay package for the weekend including lodging, lift ticket, and ski clinic starts at $89 per person per night. 800-543-2754, 207-824-3000. sundayriver.com/Events/parrothead.html. Directions: Sunday River is about 180 miles, or 3 1/2 hours, from Boston. Take Interstate 95 north; it becomes the Maine Turnpike. Take exit 63 (Gray/Route 26) and follow Route 26 north to Bethel. Take Route 2 east for 2.6 miles and turn left onto Sunday River Road, marked by the red-roofed Sunday River Brewing Co. building. Follow the road to a fork with a Sunday River ski resort sign.

KATHY SHORR

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