Bee Coleman, a sixth-grader from Homer, won this years Tustumena 200 Sled Dog race poster contest. I wanted to show the bond between musher and dog, Coleman said. Her drawing will be reproduced on the race poster and be framed and presented as the award to the race winner.
Drawing courtesy of Suzie Cook
The winners of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race poster contest have been announced and the artistic abilities of several area children soon will pay off in a dog-gone good time.
“We had some excellent drawings this year,” said Suzie Cook, T-200 educational director.
Cook said this year’s competition saw about 75 entries from all over the Kenai Peninsula. Each of these entries were mulled over long and hard before being voted on by those in attendance at the race committee meeting Thursday evening.
This year’s first-place winner is Bee Coleman, a Connections sixth-grade home-schooler from Homer. Cook said Coleman’s drawing depicts a musher kneeling down caring for a dog, putting a bootie on its paw, while another musher is goes by waving.
“I wanted to show the bond between musher and dog,” Coleman said.
The youngster said she has never participated in a sled dog race, and that the attention to details about mushing and sled dog care in her drawing came from information gleaned while visiting numerous mushing Web sites.
“Her drawing will be reproduced on the race poster,” Cook said. “It will also be framed and presented as the award to the race winner.”
Coleman, along with the other winners of the contest, will be invited to the prerace banquet on Jan. 27.
“At the banquet, the kids will draw the starting positions of the mushers and get to talk to the mushers and get their autographs. The mushers are really great with the kids,” Cook said.
The winners, along with several special-needs children from around the peninsula, will ride in the mushers’ sleds during the ceremonial start of the race in downtown Kenai on Jan. 28. The official start of the race is in Kasilof later that day.
“I’m very excited. I’ve never ridden in a sled before and can’t wait,” Coleman said.
The second-place winner was Lee Kempf of Kenai, a fifth-grader at Aurora Borealis.
“Lee’s drawing will be reproduced on the cover of the race program,” Cook said.
Kaylee Tanner of Kenai, also an Aurora Borealis fifth-grader, was the third-place winner.
The honor of having the drawing that will be reproduced for the sportsmanship award went to Shay Poole of Soldotna, a Sterling Elementary sixth-grader, while the Humanitarian Award will be reproduced from the drawing by Bristol Walton of Soldotna, an Aurora Borealis fifth-grader.
The poster contest was open to students in first through sixth grade. Cook sends out educational packets to every school on the peninsula, as well as numerous home-school programs. The packet includes information on mushing, math problems to compute musher mileage, geography of Alaska, coloring activities and contest entry forms.
“It’s all mushing related,” she said.
Cook said the contest is important on many levels, not just for what the kids win from it, but for what they learn.
“Mushing is the state sport and it’s important to keep people knowledgeable about it to keep it going. A lot of the kids hear about Iditarod, but they don’t ever get to see it. This allows them to learn about a local race beforehand and then come out and see it and experience it firsthand.”
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