Dog days of Winterpaloozah

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RANGELEY — Most of the dogs — emphasis on “most” — were enthusiastic Sunday morning about the Winterpaloozah keg pull.

As they warmed up for their turns pulling an empty keg down a snow-covered track, canine contestants enjoyed plenty of attention and backscratching from the large crowd gathered at the Rangeley town park.

Owners hoped to lead their dogs to victory along a 50-foot track, but a few dogs just decided the challenge was not worth the effort. One friendly, young Labrador retriever wandered off at mid-course to exchange greetings with a potential new friend on the sidelines.

A golden retriever, meantime, looked nervously behind her as she tried to outrun the unfamiliar baggage. And Scout, an Australian shepherd, galloped excitedly at full speed to owner, Gary Perlson, who was waiting at the finish line.

Nearby, at Haley Pond, visitors tried kick sledding, fat-tire biking and a host of other winter sports.

Eric Anderson said he and his family came from their home in Connecticut to enjoy the weekend. He was helping youngsters investigate the collection of curling equipment available to anyone wanting to try the Winter Olympics sport they had seen on television.

“We just wanted to hang out up here,” he said. “This is a great time.”

Rangeley Region Middle School science teacher Lucy Simonds said she is a dedicated fan of the sport of curling and participant in local, Sunday-afternoon club gatherings.

Several students also participate, she said, and their classroom physics lessons can come in handy when they compete in informal intramural events. Her four-member team is called the Vectors, she said, and for good reason.

“We’re the Vectors, because our shots have good direction and a lot of magnitude,” she said, laughing. “They land where we want them to.”

The club’s homemade stones are crafted from two metal mixing bowls filled with cement. For sweeping, they use brooms they bought at the local hardware store.

Professionals curlers use stones that cost thousands of dollars, said club member Jim Ferrara.

Professional rinks, called sheets, also are larger and groomed to perfection. Still, the Rangeley club still enjoys time on the ice without the expensive trappings, he said.

Ferrara and Simonds said the curling club will host an official tournament, beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Volunteer organizer Linda Dexter said the annual Winterpaloozah committee, and at least 25 hard-working volunteers, coordinated the annual fundraiser for the Rangeley Skating Club, a nonprofit that makes skating free for adults and children.

Co-sponsored by the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the day provides opportunity for visitors and residents to start school vacation week with a lot of outdoor fun and exercise, Dexter said.

At the third annual Winterpaloozah, dogs and their owners competed to pull an empty keg over a 50-foot track. The empty containers were assigned based on the dogs’ sizes, with the smallest contestants pulling an empty beer can across the finish line. The keg pull was a crowd-pleaser at the daylong celebration of outdoor fun and exercise. (Valerie Tucker Photo) 

At the third annual Winterpaloozah, visitors tried curling, with explanations and assistance from the local curling club. The club’s homemade stones are crafted from two metal mixing bowls filled with cement. For sweeping, they use brooms bought at the local hardware store. The Rangeley group enjoys their time on the ice without the expensive trappings, said members Jim Ferrara and Lucy Simonds. The curling club will host an official tournament next weekend, beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25. (Valerie Tucker Photo)

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