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Sled dog weekend has something for everyone

This is the time of year when Marquette and Alger counties go to the dogs … and love every minute of it.

The U.P. 200, Midnight Run and Jackpine 30 sled dog races are upon us, a time when teams of mushers will be racing and spectators will be watching in awe.

Many activities are part of this busy weekend. Community events for all ages take place, from youth art shows to bonfires to silent auctions.

Events kicked off Wednesday with the sale of U.P. 200 merchandise and a silent auction at the Holiday Inn of Marquette. The sale will run through noon Monday, including the opportunity to participate in the silent auction, pick up sled dog merchandise like hoodies, hats and souvenirs.

Tonight, the mushers will be at the Holiday Inn for the Pre Race Banquet and Bib Draw, which determines the order they will leave the chute.

A Pre Race Vet Check at 9 a.m. Friday in the Riverside Auto parking lot, now located at 3330 U.S. Highway 41 West in Marquette, affords the public a chance to look at the teams.

Friday evening in downtown Marquette things kick into high gear. From 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. there’s Dog-Tail Gate Gathering, another chance view the dog trucks, dogs and mushers as they gear up for the big race.

At 6:30 p.m., the opening ceremony for the 31st running of the U.P. 200 will take place downtown, followed by the start of the race at 7 p.m.

The Midnight Run, a 94-mile race, begins 30 minutes after the last U.P. 200 musher has left the chute. And the Jack Pine 30 is set for Saturday morning in Gwinn.

Throughout the weekend, there are opportunities to watch the teams in action, including the very special events in Grand Marais.

Check out The Mining Journal’s special sled dog section from Wednesday’s paper for more information.

The U.P. 200 mushers will complete their 238-mile race by crossing the finish line in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Sunday. Check the Spot Tracker to see when racers will be coming in.

The public is also welcome to attend the U.P. 200 Awards Breakfast at the Holiday Inn at 8 a.m. Monday morning, which concludes the U.P. 200 festivities.

For a full list of events visit www.UP200.org /schedule.

We welcome all mushers, volunteers and spectators to the area for this most awesome weekend of snowy fun. And we thank all those who work so hard all year round to plan these races.

They are a winter favorite for good reason.