Building on the success of previous years, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, in the coming weeks is sponsoring six exciting days of winter events at state parks around Maine.

During late January and into February, Maine families and visitors will be able to enjoy fun, affordable, day-long outdoor activities at some of the most beautiful locales in the state, according to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) officials.

Two ice-fishing derbies were scheduled and four winter-fun days when families can try out such activities as cross-country skiing, sledding, snow shoeing and dog sled rides.

“This is the third year of our ‘Take It Outside’ winter events, and we’re hoping for as great a response as we have seen in the past,” said Will Harris, BPL director. “We’re looking forward to Mainers really appreciating our parks in the winter time and getting out there and having lots of fun.”

“Take It Outside” is an initiative first begun in 2008 and carried on by BPL to encourage Maine families to get outdoors for recreation, relaxation and health. In the past three years, BPL has held numerous events during each season at Maine state parks and historic sites. Last year, more than 4,200 visitors enjoyed eight separate winter events. More than 1,100 people in particular showed up for a children’s ice-fishing derby at Range Ponds State Park in Poland Spring.

Equipment is provided to allow families to try out various activities. Several events also are scheduled during the school vacation week.

The events are sponsored by a number of Maine businesses and organizations, with Hannaford, Poland Spring Water, Wicked Joe Coffee, Oakhurst Dairy, Maine Winter Sports Center, and Kittery Trading Post as major sponsors. Numerous community volunteers also take part to make sure the winter events take place.

“We are very grateful for all the support we receive to make these special events happen,” Harris said. “We couldn’t do them without our sponsors and volunteers who show how much they care about Maine state parks.”

This year’s series started with the third annual Youth Ice Fishing Derby Jan. 16 at Lake St. George State Park in Liberty. The event has always been successful, drawing more than 100 people, who actually braved a blizzard to get out on the lake and fish, during its first year. Last year, 600 people showed to fish and enjoy all the other winter activities.

A list of remaining winter events and activities follows:

• Winter Family Fun Day, Saturday, Jan. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mount Blue State Park, Weld; Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating on the most beautiful outdoor rink in Maine, sledding, wagon rides, nature interpretive walks, bonfires, warming hut; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; children and senior citizens free. For more information, call 585-2261.

•  Winter Family Fun Day, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fort McClary State Park, Kittery Point; outdoor games, snowshoeing, maple sugaring, nature walks, winter survival demos, animal tracking, bonfires; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; children and senior citizens free. For more information, call 384-5160.

•  2011 Kittery Trading Post Kid’s Derby, Friday, Feb. 25, 8 a.m. to noon, Range Ponds State Park, Poland Spring; limited to the first 500 entries, ages 12 and young; free entry for derby, with $1.50 park admission fee for those ages 12-64, all others are free. Run in cooperation with the “Hooked on Fishing” program and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; each child receives a free ice fishing tip-up, compliments of Kittery Trading Post. For more information, go online to: icefishingderby.com/maine/kids-derby/.

• Winter Family Fun Day, Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle; Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobile “tote-rides,” guided nature interpretive walks; hot lunch included; $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64; children and senior citizens free. For more information, call 768-8341.

For more information about any of these events, call the individual parks or go online to: take-it-outside.com/index.html.

For information about Maine state parks, historic sites and public lands, go online to: parksandlands.com.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.