Kalkaska Winterfest Brings Participants from Across the Country

Snowy paws and bundled up spectators made the trek up north Saturday for Kalkaska’s yearly Winterfest.

 

The sled dog races have been going on for about a decade.

They were supposed to happen last month, but poor trail conditions postponed it.

More than 70 teams participated in the six dog, four dog and three dog events, plus several more.

“A lot of people from all over the Midwest come, but we also pull people from really far away like Alaska and New Hampshire.

Mushing: it’s a special winter sport that brings animal lovers and athletes together.

“I’m here for full winter season because I’m racing to earn points for World Cup events. This event is IFSS sanctioned race and I collect the points for this world cup.

Sylvia says she came all the way to Northern Michigan from Alaska to compete, and she hopes to return.

“This race is very nice, organized by very nice people. It’s a very friendly atmosphere here. Wonderful trails, very safe trails, which is very important for us, for our dogs,” Slyvia, Kleinova said.

While people train months and months for this, the dogs do as well. Lemon was the winner of the six dog races. We met her owner who Lemon led to victory.

“It’s my home trail, so I always want to do pretty good because you don’t want to be beat on your home turf,” Mandy Collins said.

Mandy Collins is an athlete and organizer. She’s been a part of Winterfest since she was 12.

“Usually everyone who comes always want to come year after year. I think there’s only three new mushers who had never raced this race before,” she said.

And people from all over Northern Michigan came to watch. For some it was an emotional experience.

“I get teary eyed. I miss my dogs, but you have life changes and it’s not fair to dogs to keep them in town or in a small house. But yeah I get a little teary eyed when I come here and hear them bark and howl but it’s also a happy day,” Ruth-Ann McGrath said.

All the same races will run Sunday. For the full schedule click here.