Dog mushing center of Bethel museum exhibit

by Angela Denning-Barnes on November 14, 2013

Trophy for the Mail Trail 202 race is one of several items on display in the cultural center museum. Photo/Angela Denning Barnes

Trophy for the Mail Trail 202 race is one of several items on display in the cultural center museum. Photo/Angela Denning Barnes

The Association of Village Council Presidents and the Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee are teaming up to co-sponsor a museum exhibit on dog mushing. It opens Friday at 6 p.m. at the Yupiit Piciryarait Museum and runs through January. It will focus on the history of the K300 Sled Dog Race as well as the rich history of dog mushing and sled dog racing on the Y-K Delta.

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K300 race manager Zach Fansler says the exhibit contains a variety objects on display.

“All kinds of difference artifacts, everything from sleds to classic pictures to trophies to pins, t-shirts and everything that’s associated with not only the K300 but dog mushing throughout the history of the Delta,” Fansler says.

Although the exhibit will go through January, the main event will happen at the grand opening ceremony. There, Fansler says, there will be local speakers talking about mushing in Western Alaska and slideshows.

Zach: “And a lot of people that have been associated with dog mushing and with the K300 and with local races throughout the year are invited to come and it’s going to be an excellent event to kick off the whole exhibit which will run through the end of January.”
Angela: “Apart form the actual competitive racing and the K300 which started, I think the first K300 was in 1980?”
Zach: “1980, yeah.”
Angela: “But dog mushing has been a tradition out here for a long time.”
Zach: “Yeah, for many, many years and it wasn’t just a sport back in the day, it was actually something that was required for people to survive whether they were using it to go hunting or for transportation in between villages but also for mail runs and things like that and that’s actually what the K300 trail is based on, is a mail run that used to go to Aniak and then back and that’s sort of how it started and we will actually have a really massive, old freight sled that would have been something that you would have seen used to carry packages to and from the villages and it’s really interesting because on Friday night you’ll be able to compare that with a racing sled that’s going to be donated by one of our local mushers. You can see sort of how the designs have changed, how things have sort of been more stream lined now that they’re used for a less utilitarian purpose and for more of a sport.”

This January will be the 35th running of the K300 race.

The cultural center museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

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