Sled dog contest ‘a go’ in Newport

Posted Feb. 24, 2011, at 11:28 p.m.

NEWPORT,  Maine — Hundreds of racers and spectators are expected in Newport over the weekend for a dog sledding competition sanctioned by the Down East Sled Dog Club.

A thick snowpack has made conditions nearly ideal for the David D. Merrill Memorial Challenge, which was canceled the past two years because of poor conditions.

“This year is a definite go!” states promotional material from the Sebasticook Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is helping organize the races. The event, which is geared as a family activity, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Big A Snowmobile Club on Durham Bridge Road.

The races will be held in honor of David Merrill, a Stetson resident who passed away unexpectedly. Merrill was an active member of the Sebasticook Valley Snowmobile Association and late in his life had developed a love of sled dog racing. The snowmobile club will maintain a concession stand and keep its lodge toasty warm for the duration of the event.

The event is sponsored by the Sebasticook Valley Federal Credit Union, which has branches in Pittsfield, Newport and Corinna. Sled sponsors and raffle donations still are being solicited. Anyone interested in donating raffle items or money or in volunteering their time can call the Sebasticook Valley Chamber of Commerce at 368-4698. More information is available on the Down East Sled Dog Club’s website, www.desdc.org.

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