Warm weather forces winter festival to cancel dog sled races

Charlie Conners and his sled dog team rush down an open trail during the 2023 Prince Albert Winter Festival Dog Sled Races. The 2024 races were cancelled on Thursday due to warm weather and a lack of snow. -- Photo courtesy of Rod Young.

The Prince Albert Winter Festival will go ahead without one of its most popular attractions after organizers cancelled the sled dog races on Thursday.

Winter Festival president Bev Erickson said it the hold off making the decision until they were absolutely sure they wouldn’t have enough snow to host them.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “We were still hoping that Mother Nature might kick in, but unfortunately she has other plans.”

Although the sled dog races are cancelled, other outdoor events will still continue. The King and Queen Trapper events will still take place on Feb. 24-25, as will the fish fry. Sleigh rides planned for the same two days will switch over to wagon rides if there isn’t enough snow. All those events will be held outside the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

The Prince Albert Winer Festival Family Day Sliding Party hosted in partnership with Lake Country Co-op will still go ahead too, even if there isn’t enough snow to slide down the hill. Erickson said Lake Country will still be cooking up hot dogs and hot chocolate, and attendees can still enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides.

Although the warm weather forced organizers to cancel one event, Erickson said it may prove beneficial for others.

“We’re hoping that the outdoor events will be well attended because of the beautiful weather,” she said. “It’s supposed to be -3 C on the Saturday and Sunday, so really there’s no reason why you can’t go out and enjoy the King and Queen Trapper events and the new Junior event.”

Admission is a $3 Winter Festival button, which can be purchased at any Lake Country Co-op.

Indoor events continued on Thursday with the opening of Voices of the North at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre. The show has two more performances on Friday, and another two on Saturday. Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on both days.

Saturday events include the Winter Festival Jigging Contest at the Metis Friendship Centre and the Prince Albert Fiddle Show at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. Start times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively.

Prince Albert’s bushiest beards will be on display Sunday at 7 p.m. when the Winter Festival Beerd Derby Finale begins at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation building.

The Family Day Sliding Party begins at 11 a.m. on Monday at Little Red River Park, while fireworks are scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

See future editions of the Daily Herald for more on upcoming Winter Festival events.