Winter events abundant this weekend, organizers ready to welcome thousands

There are plenty of winter-themed events to attend around the Twin Cities this weekend.

From dog sledding to cross country skiing races, organizers of both events say they’re excited to welcome thousands.

“The energy of a sled dog race at the start is pretty amazing,” said Bethany Hway, founder and president of the Klondike Dog Derby.

After canceling last year because of COVID-19, the second Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby is all ready to go.

“We’re back bigger and stronger this year,” said Jackie Piepkorn, the chief veterinarian of the Klondike Dog Derby.

Twenty-four mushers and around 200 dogs will start and finish at Water Street in Excelsior, making two loops around Lower Lake Minnetonka for 40 miles.

“I can guarantee that when these dogs come out of the truck they know it’s race day and you’re going to hear them howling and singing,” Hway said.

The Klondike Dog Derby Founder and President Bethany Hway said this sport really gained popularity in the ’70s.

“This is an amazing sport that originated out of necessary travel so people have been traveling by dog team for hundreds of years and at some point, they said hey who’s faster,” Hway said.

‘I’ve been working with sled dogs for over 25 years,” Piepkorn said.

Dr. Jackie Piepkorn is one of several veterinarians on-site providing care for the dogs. She wants the community to come to see all the action in person.

“This is really a significant race, and it’s a lot of fun but actually for the community it’s an amazing opportunity to see the athleticism of these dogs,” Piepkorn said.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The City of Lakes Loppet Festival is expecting around 20,000 people throughout the weekend.

“It’s going to be perfect weather for a winter festival,” said Claire Wilson, executive director of the Loppet Foundation.

With a bit of a warmup, the two-day event will feature everything from fat tire biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing from the Trailhead to Lake Bde Maka Ska. One of the highlights is the Luminary Loppet.

“We have about 16,000 people registered to come out this year which is the most ever,” Wilson said.

Loppet Foundation executive director Claire Wilson says this is what makes winter in Minnesota so special.

“The thing that makes Minnesota so unique is that so many people do recognize that if you’re going to live here you might as well enjoy it,” Wilson said.

For more information on Klondike Dog Derby visit here and for more information on the Loppet Festival, visit here.