In the late 1930’s Excelsior held an annual “Klondike Day” as part of the WPA recreation project’s Hennepin County program of ice carnivals. The event featured the coronation of an ice princess and ice queen, a snow modeling contest, ski races, a masque nighttime skating party, and a dog derby. The dog derby was held on College Lake, where neighborhood kids would hitch Fido up to whatever sort of sled they might have had at their disposal, and race around the lake. Pictured below is Annette Colburn of Excelsior, repeated winner of the Tribune Dog Derby in Minneapolis. She’s posing with her dog, Tribune, after winning the dog derby during Klondike Day on February 22, 1937.
Sled dog racing in Excelsior didn’t end in the 1930’s, however. Later, in the 1970’s, Excelsior saw a revival of sled dog racing. The Greater Excelsior Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a series of races with the North Star Sled Dog Club, bringing a fun, annual winter festivity to the community. Starting and finishing in The Commons, dog teams raced out to Big Island and around Smith Bay and Lafayette Bay. There were multiple classes, including a Jr. Race. Hug-a-husky buttons were sold at local shops, and hot cider, bratwurst and kraut sandwiches served up as refreshments for racers and spectators alike.
We are so thrilled to bring sled dog racing back to Excelsior and the Lake Minnetonka area!