Cheap airfare, free skiing, enticing dinners, and other news and notes from around Maine

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Everybody loves a deal, and I’ve got quite a few for you.

Book today: TOO LATE, YOU MISSED IT, SORRY. $49 airfare from New York, NY, (JFK) Portland, Maine (PWM) on Jet Blue. The fare is good from Jan. 30 through April 3, 2012, which means it’s perfect for a skiing/snowboarding escape to Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Saddleback, or any of Maine’s other resorts. OR just escape and spend a few days in Portland, the Kennebunks, Rockland, or Camden. OR plan ahead for Maine Restaurant Week, see below.

Robert Burns Supper: Jan. 24, at the Inn at Brunswick Station, which opened last summer (in Brunswick, adjacent to where the Downeaster Amtrak train will dock later this year). Poetry, bagpipes, traditional Scottish fare for $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Free Skiing/Snowboarding: Yes, free! Black Mountain of Maine is offering five nights of free skiing and riding, Jan. 26, Feb. 2, 9, and 16, and March 1, from 4-9 p.m. No catches, no fine print. Event is supported by local businesses. You must sign in at the base lodge to get a ticket.

Dog Kissing Contest: Yes, you read that right. The good folks at Planet Dog are holding their annual Valentine’s Day Canine Cocktail Pary & Dog Kissing Contest at the company store in Portland, Wed., Feb. 15, 6-7:30 p.m. The annual fundraiser inclludes free treats, beer, and wine. Enter the Dog Kissing contest for $5 and if you and your pooch make the longest sloppiest kiss, the take-home is an assortment of Planet Dog’s best sellers valued at $75. Proceeds benefit the Planet Dog Foundation.

Argentinean Wine Dinner: Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Sea Glass Restaurant, Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth: $62 per person includes wine pairings.

Plan ahead: (see Jet Blue sale, above) Maine Restaurant Week is March 1-10, 2012, with restaurants statewide offering fixed-price menus: 3-course dinners for $20, $30, or $40; 3-course lunches for $15.12.

50% off room rates: Participating members of the Maine Innkeepers Association are again offering a 50% reduction on room rates for the annual Habitat for Humanity program, April 25-May 23, 2012. The catch: You must write a a tax deductible donation check made out to Habitat for Humanity for $35 to snag the rate. This is one of my favorite programs: You can get a great rate at a great property. The list keeps getting updated, so keep checking for the deals. When you see one you like, grab it. This is one popular program that’s raised more than $68,000 to help build homes for deserving Maine families.