Posted by: csdailyblog | February 7, 2011

Weekend Sled Dog and Barcalounger Races

Conserve students watch the starting line as the Mutt Race begins.

On Saturday, three Conserve School vans headed out to the nearby Three Bear Sled Dog Races for a true Northwoods experience. This annual weekend of races draws sled dog teams from all over the Midwest, yet has a small-town feel because most of the spectators and officials are Land O’ Lakes (population 800) locals. The start and finish lines and accompanying smaller events are all set up on the elementary school and town hall grounds, so there are lots of activities packed into a small area.

The main events were several different types of dog sled races on both Saturday and Sunday. Small and large dog teams pulled both sleds and skiers, with adult and junior divisions.  These main activities were accompanied by a craft show, a bake sale area, and fun events like the Mutt Race, the Barcalounger Race, and the Fido Fashion Show, where Packer attire was the favorite theme.

Judges Lila and Kaitlyn carefully evaluate one of the entrants in the Fido Fashion Show.

Some highlights:

  • Three Conserve School teams entered the Barcalounger Race, and two received second and third place along with gift certificates to Land O’ Lakes restaurants and shops. One of the teams, made up of Luke W., Gaelen, and Brendan, startled the locals (and me!) by stripping down to their bare chests, despite the 20 degree weather and light sleet, in order to “improve their aerodynamics,” they said.
  • Students Lila and Kaitlyn were pressed into duty as judges for the Fido Fashion Show.
  • Students had a chance to volunteer on the race course, which wound through the area forests on trails. The volunteers either walked or were taken out on snowmobiles to various locations on the trails, where they helped direct the flow of snowmobile traffic in order to make sure the dogsleds had the rightaway.
  • Students had a chance to roam around tiny Land O’ Lakes and discover local gems like the Land O’ Lakes Village Market (a corner grocery store — the antithesis of modern “big box” stores), Grizzly’s Pizza, and the Tackle Box, where you can find an array of bait with strange names like mousies and waxies. (Don’t be fooled by the cute names: they’re fly larvae.)

Brendan and Luke build up speed as they push Gaelen down the Barcalounger raceway.

The dog teams and sleds whooshed in and out of the main event area all day long and were quite a sight. The dogs are so eager to run that when they wait between races, they strain forward perpetually, whining and howling. Once harnessed to the sleds and ready to race, the dogs have to be restrained until the “go” signal is given, when they’re finally let free to bound away.

Students had such a good time that, even though they had the opportunity to return at noon, most stayed the whole day. Conserve School sponsors the Three Bear Sled Dog Races, and Head of School Stefan Anderson and Director of Residential Life and Outdoor Programs Cathy Palmer serve on the planning committee, They put in many hours preparing for the big event. They were on hand at the races, of course, along with Jean Haack, Stewardship and Health Care Coordinator, Trina Van Schyndel, Field Instructor, and me. We had a great time watching the races and watching the students have so much fun.

See more photos on Head of School Stefan Anderson’s Conserve School website.

Mary Anna

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  1. It looks like you all had a fantastic time! This was one of my favorite events at Conserve School, and i’m glad you are all still involved with this! Keep enjoying the snow!

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