Weekend filled with great events for whole family

What a weekend we have coming up.

Not only does the area host the U.P. 200 Sled Dog Championships, one of winter’s best events, but a plethora of other great happenings take place in Marquette and the vicinity.

The U.P. 200, of course, includes three sled dog races, the main race, which starts tonight and ends Sunday; the Midnight Run, a 90-mile race that starts just after the U.P. 200 sleds head out; and the Jack Pine 30, which happens in Gwinn Saturday.

The weather may have an impact on some of the racing, but we know it will still be a wonderful event for spectators to enjoy.

Then today through Sunday, hundreds of athletes from all over the Western Hemisphere will be at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Supertour and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Central Region Skiing Championships.

Teaming up to host this most prestigious event are the city of Ishpeming, Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Michigan University Nordic Ski Team and U.S. Ski & the Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum — with a huge amount of support from the community.

Al Quaal boasts one of only four International Ski Federation, or FIS, homologated courses in the upper Midwest, a distinction that also garners USSA approval. Skiers will be out on the course today, Saturday and Sunday and spectators are encouraged to watch and cheer on the athletes.

Another amazing event happening now is the Michigan Ice Fest, which is drawing participants and spectators from around the globe to watch ice climbing at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger County and to participate in a number of workshops. The festival is one of the oldest such events in the country and was the subject of a documentary by local filmmaker Aaron Peterson and crew that had its world premiere in 2016.

Saturday is the date for the 2017 edition of the Polar Roll Fat Tire Bike Race, which uses the snowy trails between Ishpeming and Marquette for three different races.

For art lovers, the 29th annual Glacier Glide will be from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Presque Isle Park in Marquette. And for nature lovers, Van Riper State Park hosts a Lantern Lit Snowshoe Hike from 7-9 p.m. Saturday.

All things considered, this might be one of the busiest weekends, not just of the season but of the entire year.

We hope area residents get out to enjoy at least one of these fantastic events.