By Jonathan Phelps
---- — HAMILTON — For the second year in a row, the New England Sled Dog Races have been canceled because of the lack of snow.
There needs to be at least 6 to 7 inches of snow for mushers to hit the course, and the area has far less than that. The races were scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at Appleton Farms.
“It is a weather-dependent event,” organizer Robert Henrici said. “We can only look forward to next year.”
The group was able to host a fundraiser and a presentation by Shelley Gill, an Alaskan author, adventurer and dog musher, which drew a crowd of about 100 people. Part of what Gill spoke about was global warming and climate.
“As disappointed as we are about not being about to hold the races, this presents an opportunity to learn more about climate change and how it affects everyone’s homes, farms and gardens — not just the races,” said Belinda Recio, a board member of nonprofit Friends of New England Sled Dog.
Recio said the race can’t be pushed to later in the winter because many of the mushers are already booked at other races. The races here are not the only ones being canceled or postponed in New England, she said.
Some local residents have asked the group about the possibility of a rig race, an event where mushers race with wheeled rigs.
“Although the mushers do train with wheeled rigs in the offseason, at this point in the year, they are training solely for snow, and the current course at Appleton Farms would not be appropriate for a rig race,” the organization wrote in a posting announcing the cancellation.
Proceeds from the group’s sponsorships and fundraisers were donated to The Trustees of Reservations, Essex County Trails Association, Essex County Greenbelt Association and the MSPCA.
“I really appreciate the whole community’s enthusiasm for the event,” Henrici said, “and going forward, we hope to continue this next year.”
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.