The Maine State Championship Races are set for Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, in the fields along Front Street in Farmington, weather permitting. The new location this year came about when organizer Jake Turner of Jay discussed the races with Narrow Gauge Cinemas owner John Moore at the Fire and Ice Festival. As seen in this file photo, the Turner family has been providing sled dog rides during the festival for several years. Livermore Falls Advertiser file photo

FARMINGTON — Organizers are hoping for fresh snow and colder temperatures in the coming days so the annual sled dog races can be held.

The Maine State Championship Races are planned for Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, which is a week later than last year. The location has also changed this year.

“The races will start and finish in Prescott Field, near the [University of Maine at Farmington] freshman parking lot by McDonalds,” Jake Turner of Jay, whose family has organized the races for years, said on Wednesday, Feb. 21. “The course takes the dogs up by Narrow Gauge Cinemas to the water district’s fields out back.”

The races will be amazing for spectators, with 75% of the course visible from the concession stands near the cinema, Turner said. “It should be a very cool experience for spectators to see,” he noted. “At Bussie York’s [Sandy River Farms on the Farmington Falls Road] the fields are hard to see except at the start and the very end.”

The Turner family has provided sled dog rides during the Farmington Fire and Ice Festival for several years, most recently for a $5 fee with prior sign-up required due to their popularity.

“The idea to change locations started with a conversation I had with John Moore [Narrow Gauge Cinemas owner] at the Fire and Ice Festival,” Turner said. “Everyone comes together for that, has a great time. The new location will provide more exposure for the sport, let the public and families see the dogs in action. I wanted to try something different.”


Moore is expected to have fire pits going, his concession stand open and music “to try to make it more festive,” Turner stated.

Race winners are determined by combined times over two days of racing, he noted. The races start each day at 10 a.m. with skijor classes followed at 11 a.m. with the four-dog classes, he said. After an hour break for lunch the six-dog classes take off at 1 p.m. with the two-dog classes at 2 p.m., he stated.

“More and more sled dog owners don’t have large kennels, so we added the two-dog class,” Turner said.

The Maine State Championship Races are sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club, Turner noted. “The Farmington races are one of our biggest events,” he stated.

Earlier Wednesday, Jake’s mom Joy Turner of Jay said lack of snow this year has meant there have been hardly any races in Maine. Jake and his dad, Mark Turner have gone over the course two or three times, she noted.

“The weather changes so much,” Jake agreed. “I hope it stays colder. There is a good, solid, icier base we can utilize but we need more snow. We will groom after Friday’s storm, keep an eye on the weather. A decision will be made next Wednesday as some people will be traveling.”

It’s still the cusp of winter, the rain can come later in March, Turner added.

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