CALUMET - Thousands of people will flood downtown Calumet next Friday and Sunday for the start and finish of the fourth annual CopperDog 150 sled dog race, but event organizers are making sure there's plenty to do next Saturday as well.
The Dog Dayz of Calumet will offer family-friendly activities early Saturday afternoon, and free sled dog rides will be the featured activity at the Copper Harbor checkpoint mid Saturday afternoon.
"For those overachievers out there, they can hit the snow shoe races in Calumet, get their faces painted, meet some mushers then shoot up to Copper Harbor in time for the free kids' rides and finish things off with a little dinner," CopperDog 150 Executive/Race Director Todd Brassard said.
Dog Dayz of Calumet events will kick off at 11:30 a.m. with kids snowshoe races on Fifth Street at the CopperDog start gate. Prizes will be awarded to all children participating, and Cross Country Sports will be supplying a free snowshoe rental to the first 30 kids.
The race will include three heats for different groups: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade.
"We have been trying to find the right event for Saturday in Calumet and believe that doing things with kids and their family is perfect," CopperDog 150 Board Chairman and Calumet Coordinator Doug Harrer said. "We have a wonderful group of volunteers that have been meeting weekly for the past two months to ensure that this family event will be fun."
From noon to 3 p.m. families are invited to construct snow statues in Agassiz Park, and Calumet High School students will be doing face painting at the Copper Country Artists Association.
A musher meet-and-greet with sled dogs will be held from 12:30 to 1:30, and at 1:30 judging will start in the window-decorating contest for Calumet businesses. Prizes include a gift basket of CopperDog goods.
Between 1:30 and 3, kids can take part in sledding or snowshoeing on the snow road. Ace Hardware will lend sleds for families to use, but supplies are limited. From 12:30 to 3, kids can get their picture taken at the start gate with an official CopperDog race bib.
"We like to think while the dogs are away, the families will play," said Bridget Harsch, who along with fellow AmeriCorps member Zoe Lincoln, led planning of the Calumet activities. "How often do kids get the opportunity to race on a snow road? We hope families take full advantage of all the free activities we've put into place this year."
Downtown Calumet businesses, including Calumet Floral and Gifts, Ziyad Gallery, Copper World, Copper Country Artists Association and The Office Shop will also be offering specials throughout the day. Evening activities are also planned for adults, including drink specials at L&L Bar and Luigis before the Calumet Wolverines hockey game that night.
Suggested parking is on Scott and Portland streets.
Copper Harbor events
The Copper Harbor Improvement Association and volunteers will host a hospitality room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Grant Township Hall, and its convenient location near the finish line will allow race spectators to warm up with free hot beverages and treats.
The second stage of next weekend's CopperDog 150 starts at about 9 a.m. in Eagle Harbor, and mushers will arrive in Copper Harbor at about 2 p.m.
Later that afternoon, from 3 to 5 p.m. free sled dog rides will be offered in the Grant Township Park. Musher Tom Bauer, father of 16-year-old CopperDog 150 entrant Roy Bauer, will bring his B-team for the kids' rides, which are sponsored by CHIA.
"The CopperDog 150 has grown in popularity each year. We hope that people who attend the start of the race will venture out to all locations involved and make a whole weekend event out of it," Copper Harbor Coordinator Jill Protzel, who has been a volunteer every year of the race, said. "Copper Harbor has a lot to offer in the winter and is definitely worth the trip."
Frank & The Beans will also be performing live music at Zik's Bar Saturday night.
"We have the hospitality room, the finish line, free kids' rides, great restaurants, great sights and live music. The only thing to make this event better would be an even larger crowd to come enjoy the festivities," Protzel said.
U.S. 41 (Gratiot Street) will be closed from Fifth to Second streets, and spectators and volunteers can park on one side of any side street. Public bathrooms are located at Grant Township Hall.
The race also restarts with the third stage in Copper Harbor Sunday morning before the early afternoon finish in downtown Calumet.
A full race schedule of events can be found at copperdog150.com and on p7A of today's Daily Mining Gazette. Visit mininggazette.com and search "CopperDog" for previous weeks' CopperDog 150 features and check back to The Daily Mining Gazette for full event coverage.