Schroon Lake can lay claim to another event which will help enhance its reputation as a year ‘round resort town with the announcement this week of a prestigious Sled Dog Race coming here in February.
The Schroon Lake Challenge Sled Dog Race 2013 will be held over the weekend of February 9th and 10th over some of the town’s vast snowmobile runs. The weekend will feature dozens of races which will begin and end at the Town Golf Course, said one of the organizers, John Huston.
The event is being staged by the Pennsylvania Sled Dog Club, one of the oldest sled dog clubs in the country.
“We are very excited about this event,” said Councilman Roger Friedman, who along with Huston took a lead role in getting the races to Schroon.
The process of bringing the event here began over the summer when the Town learned the sled dog club was looking for a new venue to hold their annual event, after years of staging it in Massena.
Fast forward to early September when a club official inspected the proposed course with Huston and Friedman.
“They (club officials) hadn’t seen hills like that in a long time,” Friedman told Schroon Laker today.
“So they asked if there was the potential to have a two mile course. I jumped on my mountain bike and discovered we had an almost perfect two mile course on a snow mobile track. That’s when they changed the race plan from 4 miles, 6 miles and 8 miles, to the current 2, 4 and 6”.
Race officials re-inspected the course two weeks ago and gave it their stamp of approval. Friedman says the new modified course will be extremely popular for mushers from the New England area
“The two mile course is also perfect for juniors,” Friedman said. “The club really wants to get this event initiated here.”
So what does this mean for Schroon’s economy?
“This is big for Schroon. The economy of Schroon Lake is event orientated. For our restaurants, lodging establishments and retail stores, this means there will be people in town. I’m not sure of what this means in actual numbers, but I’m told every 50 mushers competing can bring in around 100 people in their collective entourages”.
The organizing committee has a lot to do in the weeks ahead. First up is raising the prize money for the event from local and national sponsors, said Huston.
“The minimum we have to come up with is $3,500, which has been guaranteed by the Chamber of Commerce. The more money we raise for the purse, the more competitors will come to the event”.
A purse of around $3,500 typically attracts around 50 mushers. The races have a large spectator following, which could bring many more folks to Schroon, Huston said.
Huston says he wants to make this a community event. “We hope to have a meet the mushers night on Friday, February 8. We haven’t decided on a venue yet.”
Friedman hopes the event will not only bring in tourists, but bring out the locals to watch the races and get involved.
“We are going to need some volunteers with snowmobiles and some course rangers. This is going to be a fun event and we want to include everyone”.
The staging of the event at the Schroon Lake Golf Course will feature several spectator areas around the finish and start lines.
At a Chamber of Commerce meeting in August, where Huston first proposed the idea, he hoped that several vendors selling merchandise, food and drink could set up at the course giving it a fun, festival atmosphere..
Friedman said the golf course offered excellent views of the racers, and the crest between the 1st and 4th holes of course would be an excellent way to watch close finishes.
What do you think of Schroon going to the dogs? Tell us in comments.