Dog racing, one of K’amba Carnival’s highlight events, is undergoing a change of scenery away from the ice of the Hay River.
“It’s a little bit different this year,” said Fort Resolution’s Bess Ann Mckay, the co-ordinator of the event, noting the races will use the track along Highway 2 that was used about a month ago by the Aurora Ford Classic, a two-day race from Hay River to Enterprise and back.
“So we’re going to use the same track and the only difference is that it’s not going to Enterprise,” said McKay.
Instead, the races for K’amba Carnival will use a loop for its 18-mile 10-dog races — nine miles out on Highway 2 and nine miles back.
That, of course, means a new location for the start/finish line, which would normally be on the Hay River near the Old Village on the Hay River Reserve.
“Instead of starting at the Old Village, there’s a little bit of change for this year,” said McKay. “It’s going to be across from Super A. So the public gets to watch the whole event.”
The races will be held on March 6 and 7.
Along with the 10-dog races, there will be others featuring teams of six dogs, four dogs and one dog of various distances.
The usual track on the Hay River stretches from the Old Village to the Pine Point Bridge.
Aaron Tambour, the chairman of the K’amba Carnival Committee, said the change to Highway 2 was made as a safety precaution.
“Safety because of the way the ice froze this year,” Tambour said. “We just didn’t feel that the ice would be safe enough to put a snowplow on it. So we just decided we’ll use the track that’s already there (along the highway).”
McKay said there was also another reason for the new location.
“The other thing, too, is that we have to follow the rules with our Covid-19 control plan for our races,” she said, explaining that means spectators can’t be in the same area as the dog mushers and handlers. “They have to be in their vehicles. They have to maintain their distance. So we have a whole list of Covid rules that are applicable.”
Along Highway 2, spectators can watch the race from their vehicles and even follow teams as they compete.
McKay expects that a lot of people will watch the races.
“It’s going to be something that’s totally different for K’amba,” she said. “The racing is so exciting and I’m just excited for them.”
McKay expects about 14 teams to compete from around the NWT, the same number as for the Aurora Ford Classic.
“It’s going to be fun and I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
The total prize purse for the races is $13,100.