MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – When weather doesn’t cooperate, true to the spirit of the Upper Peninsula, the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association adapted to its circumstances. In a show of SISU, what would have been the UP200, Midnight Run, and Jack Pine 30 sled dog races were converted into the Festival of the Sled Dog as well as a Saturday celebration in Grand Marais.

The celebration started Thursday night with a banquet.

On Friday afternoon, truckloads of snow were brought in to create a makeshift sledding hill and faux starting line for the festival.

Planning for the races is a yearlong effort. Despite weather conditions making the course unsafe, there was a team working up to the last minute in an attempt to make the trail safe for the dogs and mushers. Check out the day we experienced with the UP200 Trail Boss.

During the Festival of the Dog, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist stopped to talk with us about all things dog sled racing.

The weekend was turned competition into celebration, including celebrating the life of longtime volunteer Patty Holman who passed away last year. We talked to one woman who helped honor Patty’s memory.

As the weekend continues, the party picks up on Saturday in Grand Marais. It’s the half-way point of the race. It’s more than a pit stop. This is a community wide celebration.

The races couldn’t happen without the help of volunteer amateur or Ham radio operators.

Every musher has to start somewhere, which means training for your first mid-distance race, like this trio of women who planned to help one another during the Jack Pine 30.

Making sure the sled dogs are in good health is crucial before they begin a race. Meet the UP200’s Head Veterinarian Tom Gustafson.

Festival of the Sled Dog went off without a hitch, thanks to the organizers of the UP200 who pivoted and found a way to still celebrate this event with the entire community.