LEWISTON, Maine (AP) _ It was pie-throwing and ''nyuk-nyuk'' time in Maine this weekend, as scores of Three Stooges aficionados gathered to swap memorabilia, throw pies and impersonate their knuckleheaded heroes.

''It's a cult - it really is,'' said Joe Jerrier of Farmingdale, Maine, founder of the Three Stooges Convention.

Coming from as far away as Illinois, Stooge lovers and their guests soaked in the wealth of memorabilia on display, held contests and took in Stooge films shown around-the-clock in three theaters Saturday and Sunday.

Some fans dressed as Moe Howard, his brother, Curly or Larry Fine and smashed each other over the head with foam-rubber hammers. Others smashed pies into people's faces.

For the more serious Stooge aficionados, Curly's daughter, Janie Howard Hanky, presented a slide show.

The enduring appeal of the Stooges is that they're always good for a laugh, said Dave Carter, who has a nearly complete collection of Stooge films.

No matter how many times fans have watched them drop heavy objects on their feet, get their noses caught in plumbing fixtures or play harmonicas they've accidentally swallowed, the gags are always funny, followers say.

''If you're depressed or sick in bed, you put a tape on - it'll brighten up your day,'' Carter said.