Warm weather spells gloom again for rescheduled Winterfest

Hannah Lantzer, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Pictured is a team of dogs led by local musher Mandy Collins, 24, of Kalkaska and her lead dog, “Kid Rock” (black eurohound hybrid, shown front left). Collins was slated to compete in the sled dog races at Kalkaska Winterfest this weekend before the event was postponed until Feb. 23-24 due to a lack of adequate base snow.


KALKASKA ­– With unseasonably warm weather reaching the low-40s across the region, many local residents enjoyed the pleasant spring-like conditions during the first weekend of January. Unfortunately, the sunshine came with an ominous tinge for the Kalkaska Winterfest, which was rescheduled for the fifth consecutive year due to a lack of adequate base snow for the annual sled dog racing events.

Despite desperate calls for a “snow dance” in recent weeks on the Kalkaska Winterfest Facebook page, event coordinators announced over the weekend that the event – formerly slated to take place Jan. 12-13 – has been postponed until Feb. 23-24. The Facebook post stated that “dog/musher safety is our number one concern.”

“We need a good solid base for the dogs to run on and for the drivers, if need be, to be able to put their snow hooks in the trail securely,” explained Kristi Collins, race group organizer for Kalkaska Winterfest.

“Ice and lack of snow do not make for safe trails,” she added.

The current base is icy with seven inches of sugar snow, which would quickly become packed down, especially for larger teams.

“Ideally, we would like to see a base of at least 12 inches,” said Collins. “We would settle for eight though.”

While organizers, participants, vendors and spectators alike are disappointed by the postponement, additional base snow accumulation in the coming month will allow the festival to ensue in late February.

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