Organizers have declared the Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby will go ahead after determining trails were in good enough shape despite a winter storm.
The 18th annual event Jan. 18-19 brings in competitors to race out of the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre. The event usually attracts approximately 100 competitors, primarily from Ontario, Quebec and the U.S.
A winter storm Jan. 11-12 put the race under threat, with concern about having enough snow and trails getting too icy. But organizers said conditions were good enough to go-ahead.
“Thankfully, the temperatures dropped perfectly,” organizer and Winterdance Dogsled Tours owner Tanya McCready said. “The rain turned to snow and froze so as to not create snow sitting on top of ice but rather a solid base to work on.”
The weekend features several different disciplines, including four, six and eight-dog races, skijoring and kid and youth races. New this year is a kicksled race, a smaller sled pulled by small teams of dogs.
“Far as we’re aware this will be the first time it has been offered as a race in Ontario,” McCready said. “Allow folks with one to two dogs and a small sled to be able to come out and join in the derby.”
She said dogsledding intersects with the core of Haliburton.
“In our mind, Haliburton is all about the love of outdoors, nature, adventure and the connections in between,” McCready said. “Mushing encompasses all of those things that are such cornerstones.”
The free event begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m., continuing throughout both days. The Pinestone will also be providing a Bob Seger tribute band for entertainment Saturday at 8 p.m. Organizers ask people to keep non-competing dogs at home as they can distract.
“It is amazing having that many dogs from all over Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. all in Haliburton getting to do what they live [for] and love to do,” McCready said.