The mushers and their teams of dogs are the stars of the blitz of activity on the Kenai Peninsula this weekend, but it's the hard work of hundreds of volunteers that are making it possible.
Thanks to all the behind-the-scenes efforts, residents have had scores of unique opportunities to get out and about this weekend and embrace the winter season.
The feature attraction, of course, is the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race and its competitive field of mushers. Having this Iditarod-qualifying race in our own back yard is most definitely a perk to living on the peninsula. This is the 20th year the race has been held and it just keeps getting better because of the dedicated volunteers who make it happen.
While the T-200 has allowed residents to get up close and personal views of dog mushers and their teams, the Peninsula Winter Games, the bulk of which were scheduled for this weekend, have given people the chance to enjoy winter's snowy, icy cold.
Fishing may be great in July, but does anything depict Alaska better than a major sled dog race, ice sculptures, hockey games, snowmachine races, a snowshoe softball tournament, dog weight pulls or a frozen salmon toss? And those were just the tip of the iceberg on the winter games schedule.
If you missed out on Saturday's events, there's more today, including an open ski race and skijoring at the Kenai Golf Course and the Al York Memorial Junior Musher Sled Dog Race at Soldotna Municipal Airport. Sled-dog rides for kids follow the race. There's also a youth hockey tournament at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The weekend of wintertime events makes a powerful statement about the season: Winter isn't to be avoided. Summer will be here soon enough. The more we enjoy whatever season we're in, the more we'll be connected to this place where we live.
The T-200 and Peninsula Winter Games are a recognition that we live in a special place where winter brings its own particular pleasures. Our thanks to all the volunteers of the T-200 and the Peninsula Winter Games for the reminder and all the hard work in providing a weekend of fun for everyone.
Our best wishes also go to all the T-200 competitors. Our hope is you, too, enjoyed the best of winter on the Kenai Peninsula this weekend.
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