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CopperDog seeks volunteers for key leadership positions

CALUMET — The CopperDog dog sled race has a steady six-member board of directors and is doing well financially, but there is a need to fill three recently vacated leadership positions, according to Brad King.

King, who is chairman of the CopperDog board, said the three leadership positions recently became open because the people who filled them had to move on for other responsibilities.

“We lost three key leaders,” he said. “We (have) to get those filled by fall.”

As with all positions in the CopperDog race organization, King said the three open positions are volunteer.

“The entire CopperDog is volunteer from top to bottom,” he said. “Nobody gets paid, including the board of directors.”

One of the open positions is race director, whose responsibility involves more than the 80-mile and 150-mile races, King said.

“We’re known as a race, but we’re really a big event,” he said.

Besides the race, there are other events which take place during the three days of the race.

The race director is responsible for monitoring the trails, making certain the timing is done correctly and the rules are followed, works with the veterinarians and mushers and oversees the safety of the events. The race director also works with land owners along the race route to get permission to use their properties where the trail passes over them.

King said the race director position doesn’t require a knowledge of dog racing.

“It’s somebody who has good organizational skills,” he said.

The approximate workload for this position is five hours per month in June and August, 20 hours per month from September to December, and 40 hours per month in January and February, plus the race weekend at the beginning of March.

Another open position is for the information technology (IT) manager, which King said is vital for all of the CopperDog events.

The former CopperDog IT manager, Todd Brassard, created an excellent IT system, but King said the new IT manager can either continue to use that system or create an entirely new one.

“We need to put IT in place by fall,” he said.

The approximate workload for the IT position is to be determined. If a new system is implemented, this work must be completed prior to December.

King said also needed is a marketing lead person, who will be responsible for getting information about the events to radio, television, print and social media.

“We need somebody to organize that effort,” he said.

The marketing lead person will write copy, make posters about the CopperDog and put information on social networking sites.

“We’re looking for somebody with a creative vision and will take it and run,” he said.

The approximate workload for this position is 10 hours per month from October to December, and 20 hours per month in January and February.

King said the CopperDog is doing well. It has many volunteers who help out during race weekend, and business sponsorship is regular, with the race receiving $85,000 every year.

“By every measure, the race is incredibly successful,” he said. “Financially, we’re very strong,” he said.

King said descriptions of the positions and how to apply will be soon be posted online at

posted on 6/14/2017 8:48 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Friday Night Food at the CopperDog

posted on 2/21/2017 9:31 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog Swag Clearance Sale

Get Official CopperDog Swag at River Valley Bank in Calumet

Sweaters ........ Only $10   Shirts ...... $5

Are you passionate about CopperDog150 and like to wear the Brand to show your support? We have long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts from races past. These have been marked down and are priced to sell. Shirts are now $5.00 and Sweatshirts are now $10.00 apiece. We are trying to make room before this years selection arrives. Stop by River Valley Bank in Calumet during regular business hours. Not all sizes and colors are available so come soon before they are all gone!

posted on 2/14/2016 8:23 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog on Northland Adventurer

A huge thank you to Mike Stout, Founder, Editor in Chief Northland Ad

Click here to view the story on Northern Adventurer

posted on 2/24/2015 7:02 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Keweenaw Coffee Works: Spirit of the Trail

Keweenaw Coffee Works of Calumet has once again put their expert knowledge of the roasting of quality coffee beans to work for the CopperDog 150/40 races. Valerie Baciak and Nate Shuttleworth, co-owners of the Calumet based business, are roasters of some of the Copper Country’s finest blends of coffee.

Spirit of the Trail, one of their many specialty coffee blends, is roasted exclusively for CopperDog. This limited edition coffee is prepared from beans grown in the Chiapas region of Mexico and boasts warming undertones of chocolate, toffee, and lemon.

Spirit of the Trail, is available at both the Calumet and Houghton locations of River Valley Bank, Lead Dog sponsor for the CopperDog 150/40 races. A 1- pound bag of this whole bean blend is $15.00 and Keweenaw Coffee Works is graciously donating 100% of the profits from the sales to the CopperDog organization.

We are grateful to have Keweenaw Coffee Works as one of our sponsors. Please drop by River Valley and pick up a pound of this specialty coffee today and help support the CopperDog races!

posted on 1/16/2015 12:57 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog 150 Crowns New Champion

CALUMET — They say to let sleeping dogs lie and if they ran in this weekend’s CopperDog 150 or 40 they deserve the rest.

Four hundred sled dogs hit the trails Friday night racing in the single stage 40 mile race or the grueling three–stage run that took the mushers to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula and back to where the race began in Calumet.

Race Director Kim Pici said things got off on the right paw Friday and continued through the entire weekend.

“I think everything—the volunteers, the weather, the trail,” Pici said. “We spend weeks and weeks with KTS and our trail crew and all the people that we sit here and talk about it. And the other good thing is, I’ve talked to many snowmobilers and they’ve been awesome this weekend. All of them know about the dogs on the trail, they’ve seen them. The etiquette on the trail, if you want to call it, has been fantastic. So, we’ve got a lot of people that helped put this together and make it a success.”

And the word from the trails was things were going smoothly.

“I have not had one person say, ‘I am never doing this again!’ People are excited—they’re glad to be back,” Pici said. ” I’ve had two people that have mushers that they’re handlers for and they came this very first race they’ve been to of ours and they said, ‘Wow, we’re impressed so far!’ So, that’s a good for the CopperDog family to hear.”

Things definitely went smoothly for Minnesota resident and 2015 CopperDog 150 Champion Dennis LaBoda who’s third stage surge was enough to pass two teams that started the day ahead of him.

“I’ve been racing for forty years and I’ve come in last and I’ve come in first and I love racing and I came here with the idea if we can be in the top five we would be happy,” LaBoda said. “There’s a bunch of great racers here.”

Of course the mushers have to work hard but in the end it’s the dogs that deserve the credit.

“My dogs are beautiful,” LaBoda said. “They’re healthy, happy, eating and running great. Jester and Rhea are my top leaders of the moment. That can change but these dogs have been racing this year and just doing great. This was a great trail throughout the race. We left here Friday night in the moonlight and on a nice fast trail, you get three good runs and we’ve had a few good ones in this race.”

In the minds of veteran mushers like Dennis LaBoda the CopperDog can no longer be considered an up–and–coming sled dog race.

After 6 years this race has solidified its spot among the top races in the sport.

“The CopperDog at the moment is one of the premiere races in the lower forty–eight, in North America,” LaBoda said. ” It’s just come together so well and it’s such a great location to be doing it and to create a history of sled dog racing here is just an awesome thing.”

In the CopperDog 150 Al Borak finished in 2nd Place with last year’s champion Jake Golton coming in 3rd.

In the CopperDog 40 on Friday defending champion Matt Sturmer was again the winner with Chad Schouweiler 2nd and Lynne Witte coming in 3rd.

posted on 3/6/2015 12:06 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Keweenaw Detachment #1016 Marine Corps

This MCL Detachment was chartered about ten years ago, (May 1999) by local Houghton County  former Marines.  Our purpose is “To serve and aid Marines, their families, Veterans and local community, through promoting and observing the principles and purpose of the Marine Corps League.”  We serve the Houghton /Baraga/Keweenaw/Ontonagon Counties and aid as necessary other counties.

We are the largest of the five Marine Corps League Detachments in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  As part of the National and Department of Michigan Marine Corps League, we are a tax exempt, not for profit organization, and have access to some help from them to achieve our local goals.

The Keweenaw Detachment #1016, is an organization primarily made up of men and women who have honorably served or still serve our country in the United States Marine Corps. They range from Marine veterans of the present War on Terrorism  to WWII Marines.  The Detachment also welcomes, (and has), Associate Members from other branches of the military as well as non veterans who support our goals.

The Keweenaw Detachment provides assistance to all Veterans with benefit questions or concerns by establishing proper avenues of contact for them and their families and has provided direct help during times of distress and offers the continuing comradeship of the brotherhood of Marines.       We aid as much as possible the hospitalized veterans in Iron Mountain, in the D.J.Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, through the “Marines Helping Marines” program, as well as sending packages to our local active duty Marines in harms way.

We have Detachment Scholarships which are now being given out.

Our newsletter is provided to all members and includes information on the happenings of the detachment and other affairs of interest to the detachment. Our members also receive a National Marine Corps League “SEMPER FI” Magazine and a State Magazine the “Michigan Marine News”.

The detachment has, in the past, participated and won some awards in the National MCL Rifle/Pistol Postal Matches where shooters have their scores entered in the national competition, but due to a very busy schedule we do not participate in the shooting match every year.

We have annually a Detachment Picnic in the summer, and a Marine Corps Birthday Party in November.

Our Color Guard/Honor Guard participates in many parades and ceremonies throughout the year.  A full military funeral service is available to all Marines through our Color Guard/Honor Guard. Our members also lend support to the Copper Country Veterans Assoc. with their veteran funeral service activities throughout the area at many funerals.

The Keweenaw Detachment has supported the United States Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” program throughout all four counties for the past ten years as we are the Official Local Community Organization for the “Toys for Tots”.  The “Toys for Area Youth” Fund Drive has been established by the detachment to provide necessary items to complete wish lists for the “Toys for Tots” program, and to provide funds as needed during the year for children’s needs when called for. This fund has been “tapped” during the years several times.

The Keweenaw Detachment has helped within the community when a call for assistance is made whether  for the raising of funds or of physical help, and we have also been supportive of other Veteran Organizations.

Every year we place over 1200 United States flags on veterans graves at the Forest Hill Cemetery above Houghton before Memorial Day, where they remain until after the 4th of July.

Since our area youth are very important, the detachment offers assistance to the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts and there is the availability of a Young Marines program, a Physical Fitness program, also H.S. band awards to area schools.  The fitness program scores are on the accomplishments of all children.

Our only limitation is the manpower and time to do all that we would like to do.

To become a Member -or- Associate Member of our Detachment, a Marine veteran or another person who supports our goals, is only required to pay a yearly dues of $30.00.  A Life Membership with the costs scaled according to age is also available to members in good standing.

Detachment meetings are 7:00pm, the third Thursday of the month, normally at the VFW hall in South Range.

For more information, visit our web site at

posted on 2/18/2012 8:26 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

And the Winners Are

If you were unable to attend the Volunteer Appreciation evening in April, you missed the opportunity to see some of the great work the professional photographers do, by catching the essence of race weekend and the events leading up to it on film. But you also missed the opportunity to be a judge in the first annual Volunteer Photograph contest!

All of our volunteers were urged to submit their very “best” photos, that they felt captured the essence of CopperDog. While many photos were submitted, it appears that our volunteers love one thing the most- sled dogs! Our top 3 finishers captured some close-ups of these four-legged athletes. But what was amazing was that the winners were all shots of the dogs…well let’s just say… participating in something other than racing. All three photos, showed what these dogs deserve the most after a race…rest, relaxation and a little sunshine!

Sherry Mattson took first place with an up close and personal view, of a beautiful blue- eyed pup (shown below).

Barb James, who landed both the second and third place spots (shown below), submitted photos that accurately shows, how most of these dogs must feel after a well run race… “I just need some sun and a place to lay my head”! Both ladies won a free CopperDog shirt.

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all the volunteers who submitted some great shots. Keep practicing those photo skills and you may get that winning shot next year!

posted on 5/29/2013 9:07 AM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

"Happy healthy dogs, happy healthy mushers"

(view original story at the Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET - CopperDog 150 organizers have learned many lessons during the first three years of the sled dog race, but none as important as emphasizing dog safety. It's a lesson they almost learned the hard way in the event's inaugural year.

In March 2010, record-high temperatures and pouring rain threatened the race, with trails deteriorating by the hour. After the second stage, mushers were polarized on whether to continue on. After consulting with race planners and the chief veterinarian, a compromise was reached to run an abridged third stage.

Photos by Brockit

According to CopperDog Executive/Race Director Todd Brassard, some mushers like Bruce Magnusson felt maybe the CD150 wasn't a dog-friendly race after all by threatening the dog's health to finish in sub-par racing conditions.

"Race planners greatly benefited from insights gained and solidified their resolve to create an event that would be the most dog-friendly event in the sport," Brassard said. "The phrase 'happy healthy dogs, happy healthy mushers' was born from this imperative.

"Today, CopperDog continues to work closely with vets and mushers to make the CopperDog 150 a safe and fun event for mushers and their dog teams. There is always room for improvement and each year we work hard to make improvements."

It'll be hard to improve on the veterinary team organizers have assembled for the CopperDog 150's fourth installment.

Dr. Jeff Ladd, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Keweenaw Veterinary Clinic, is the race's chief veterinarian, and he leads a team of 11 DVMs, Certified Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Assistants that has a combined 150 years of experience with sled dog races.

Photos by Brockit

"The skills and experience our veterinary crew brings to CopperDog is absolutely essential to the operation of the event," Brassard said. "We rely on our vets, vet techs and vet assistance to evaluate the condition of the dogs and to provide medical services as needed. We also heavily rely on the chief vet to help us plan and prepare for an event that will be as dog friendly as possible. Good planning goes a long ways towards preventing injuries."

Ladd himself has been involved in veterinary care at sled dog races since 1990, including several trips to the Iditarod in Alaska, and serving as chief vet of the U.P. 200, and, of course the CopperDog 150.

"Dr. Ladd's presence has been critical to building CopperDog's credibility in the musher community," CopperDog 150 Volunteer Coordinator Brian Donnelly said. "Jeff always stands his ground when it comes to the safety of our animal athletes, and handlers can be confident that they're coming to a very dog-friendly event."

Even each of the four CopperDog "rookie" veterinarians has at minimum 10 years of experience with other sled dog races.

Which is good, because it's no small undertaking to make sure hundreds of dogs - which Ladd calls the canine equivalent of professional athletes - are all cleared for competition, tracked appropriately throughout the event and treated properly if an issue does surface.

"With the number of teams we have, just in the 150 (not including the smaller CopperDog 40), you're looking at 30 teams with 10 dogs to a team. That's 300 dogs, meaning 300 general health exams on Friday before the race starts," said Ladd, who gave a detailed presentation at last Saturday's Lead Volunteer training session. "Since we also check them orthopedically, that's 1,200 feet we look at. It's a lot of work in a short amount of time to get all these dogs evaluated."

Photo provided by Bill Fink Communications

It takes a true team effort, with vets and vet techs working in pairs, along with a scribe to do a physical and orthopedic exam on each dog before the race and at the Copper Harbor mandatory health checkpoint.

The pair follows guidelines as outlined by the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association. The team is also available at the Eagle Harbor checkpoint, though it is not mandatory for all dogs to get checked there.

"The scribe writes in a little book we call the 'dog diary,' which mushers are required to carry on the sled," Ladd said. "That way we have a paper trail for each of the dogs."

Fortunately, the vet team hasn't had to respond to any emergencies during any previous CopperDog race, but it'll occasionally need to provide intravenous fluids for dehydrated dogs or advise a dog be pulled from the race. "The most outstanding thing we've had happen is dogs eating their booties," said Ladd, which requires the vet to help the dog vomit them up to prevent digestive problems.

"Our goal is simply to help the mushers take care of their dogs," Ladd said. "Ideally what you'd like to see is every dog finish the race. I look at my job as being an advocate for the dogs."

An important point Ladd and race organizers want race spectators to be aware of is leaving pets at home, since they can be distracting to the racing dogs and create problems for mushers.

"Race dogs are a pack, and outsiders can make them unpredictable, so it's really important to leave pets at home," Donnelly said.

Since the race started in 2010, CopperDog organizers have continually worked to accomplish the goal of "happy healthy dogs, happy healthy mushers." Just ask Magnusson, who nearly left the race after 2010, but who is now one of the race's biggest proponents.

"Had I left, it would have been my loss," he said at last year's closing CopperDog 150 banquet.

For more information on the CopperDog 150, including biographies of each member of the veterinary team, visit

Check back to The Daily Mining Gazette every Saturday leading up to the race for more exclusive CopperDog 150 coverage.

posted on 2/2/2013 6:47 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Groomers blaze trail for CopperDog 150

(view original story at the Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET - Many CopperDog 150 spectators will only see the first and last mile of the March 1-3 sled dog race in downtown Calumet, but if it wasn't for well-groomed trails on the other 136 miles in between, the event would never happen.

Race organizers rely heavily on Keweenaw Trails Services, Inc., to make sure the course to Copper Harbor and back is groomed properly, creating a safe, fun environment for mushers, sled dogs - and snowmobilers - alike.

"We are very fortunate to have access to the gorgeous country and trail system that is maintained by Keweenaw Trail Services," CopperDog 150 Executive/Race Director Todd Brassard said. "Our mushers are guests on beautiful snowmobile trails that are funded by the trail permit stickers."

As the local grant sponsor through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, KTS gets paid a certain dollar amount per miles groomed, and it's no small task staying on top of the largest trail system in Michigan.

The 239-mile trail network stretches as far south as Toivola and north to Copper Harbor.

Grooming that many miles is challenging enough, but combine the needs of snowmobilers and those of mushers on CopperDog 150 weekend, and the task is that much greater.

"We worried about safety of the sled dogs and the teams, and we worried about the safety of snowmobilers, but CopperDog organizers help put up a lot of signs and provide crossing guards," said KTS head groomer and trail boss Larry "Buzzy" Butala. "We coordinate and work together.

"They get to use some of the most beautiful trails in the country, and we're happy to see the dogs have success," Butala added. "In the next 10 years this dog race will probably be the premier dog race in the country besides the Iditarod. We're trying to help them in any way we can."

Butala and his crew, which includes five groomers altogether, are out on the trails 20 hours a day, seven days a week, with typical shifts lasting nine to 11 hours.

Groomers hit the trails by 4 a.m. to keep up with the 400-500 snowmobilers who may use the trails during one shift on a busy weekend.

"This whole area is so fortunate to have groomers who do such a great job," KTS President Ken Stigers said.

This year KTS got a new $220,000 groomer, which is expected to last six to seven years. It's an impressive lifespan considering the 33,000 grooming miles KTS handles during a typical season - sometimes done at a "blistering 12 miles per hour," according to Butala - all while pulling seven tons of equipment. Fuel consumption is the in the range of $80,000 a year.

CopperDog 150 organizers donate $500 each year to help out, in addition to the volunteer task force that works with KTS race weekend to ensure safety all along the course.

"Each year the CopperDog is pleased to donate funds to the KTS to support the amazing trails that KTS maintains, and that people from all over enjoy," Brassard said.

First-year CopperDog 150 Trail Boss Brian Isaksson leads a crew of five people on the racing crew, some who head out on snowmobiles before the race, and others who "sweep" the course after the final team has hit the trails.

Eight people help out putting about 400 signs up the day before the race. Some of those signs direct mushers, others inform snowmobilers, who continue to use the trails they're paying for through CopperDog weekend.

"Snowmobilers, the vast majority of them, really actually appreciate seeing the race. It adds to Keweenaw experience," said Isaksson, who works for Isle Royale National Park during the summer and Michigan Technological University during the winter.

"They tend to pull over and watch dogs go by, slow down and wave. ... If they didn't have helmets on you could see their smiles."

For snowmobilers who would prefer to stay away from the race, alternate routes are available and listed on maps given to businesses in downtown Calumet.

Volunteer crossing guards and race organizers can also help, along with the signs posted along the trail. Sled dog teams train on snowmobile trails, so the dogs are not distracted. Isaksson is responsible for making sure trails are passable and reporting conditions to the CopperDog 150 board, and working with KTS in advance in case weather problems occur. The most common problem in the past has been low snow on Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor, but organizers don't anticipate that being a problem this year. Alternate routes are pre-planned for worst-case scenarios.

"The trails are in immaculate condition," Isaksson said. "KTS is great, and they're a good asset to the race."

For more information on the CopperDog 150, visit, and check back to The Daily Mining Gazette every Saturday leading up to the race for more exclusive CopperDog 150 coverage.

posted on 2/16/2013 8:07 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog 150 Musher Mini Documentary

WHO:       Rick Allen (ABC 5/10)
WHAT:     CopperDog 150 Musher Mini Documentary
WHERE:  BC Channel 10
WHEN:    Sunday, March 24th, Noon (30 minutes)

Every musher racing in the CopperDog 150 has a story. This year, ABC-10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Rick Allen followed the journey of one of those mushers throughout the race.

Jerry Trudell’s “Sharks Came Racing” team is located on the shores of Lake Superior in Calumet. Ride along Jerry and his team as they train on the snow-covered trails of the Keweenaw to prepare for the 150-mile run.

Of course, the dogs are the real stars. You will meet Jerry’s lead dogs: McGee & Rhea and hear the heartbreaking story of Tombstone’s final race.

From the historic downtown of Calumet to the hills of Copper Harbor, nearly 30 sled dog teams tackle the 3-stage event—but only one will be named the winner. How does Jerry’s team fare in such a grueling expedition?

Find out in a 30-minute mini-documentary, titled “Never Say Mush—Jerry Trudell & The CopperDog 150”. The show airs as a special episode of the series “In Focus” on ABC Channel 10 on Sunday, March 24th at noon.

The title is named after a conversation between Rick Allen and Jerry Trudell where Jerry explains the commands used to guide the dogs—and one of them is never “Mush!”

“Never Say Mush—Jerry Trudell & The CopperDog 150” is an ABC-10 News and 97.7 WOLV production. Written and directed by Rick Allen.
posted on 3/23/2013 9:59 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog Grows Up

Big things are happened at CopperDog, and the biggest occurred this past summer. On August 9, 2012, CopperDog became an independent non-profit 501(c)3 organization. (To be totally honest ... this event happened a bit earlier, since once the IRS approves your application your non-profit status is retroactive to the date of filing - which, in our case, was May 22, 2012.)

After three years of operating under the umbrella of Main Street Calumet, everyone agreed that CopperDog was viable, sustainable, and should be independent. Although this was a goal, becoming a 501(c)3 organization is no small feat and we are thrilled to have achieved it in only three years. (And, as an aside, getting through the IRS process in less than 90 days is almost a Guinness speed record.) We are grateful to Jim Lowrie, the CopperDog board of directors, and the Main Street Calumet board for their help in achieving this.

As exciting as this is for us, it's also just a legal footnote. Nothing has really changed at CopperDog. We still have our own board, are still planning two races (CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40), and are still in need of volunteers and sponsors.

And we are still 100% committed to community vitality and involvement. Without the support of our Keweenaw communities it doesn't matter what our legal status is. We owe our independence and our success to YOU, our Keweenaw communities and supporters.

So here's to the best race ever, March 1-3, 2013, as we grow up together!

posted on 12/3/2012 2:24 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

CopperDog positively impacts Copper Country

CALUMET - In a sense, the CopperDog 150 is the Copper Country's Super Bowl.

And, just as Sunday's big game will impact its host city Indianapolis far beyond the game itself, the March 2 to 4 CopperDog will have a significant impact to the Copper Country beyond just a sled dog race, particularly in terms of community vitality.

And just like any major event that draws thousands of spectators, the CopperDog costs thousands of dollars to put on. Organizers are using the race's two previous years and their extensive combined event management background to ensure the $45,000-50,000 budget for the race is raised and used responsibly, ultimately benefiting the community in the long run.

"Sometimes people ask me, where does all the money go?" race director Todd Brassard said. "Fortunately, our Finance and Liability committee really knows what they are doing, and all of our records are in great shape."

The Finance and Liability committee is one of six committees which makes up the CopperDog 150 subcommittee of the promotions committee of Main Street Calumet, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that ultimately oversees the event.

"Putting on the Copper Dog 150 - or any event - requires financial integrity. That is what our sponsors, donors, volunteers, participants and the public expect in addition to planning an exciting race and race-related activities," said Finance and Liability Chair Jo Cauvin, whose event management background includes an NCAA Final Four and Frozen Four, Junior Olympics and even working with the Super Bowl XL Host Committee. "Through careful budgeting and cash flow considerations, the CD 150 is strong and continues to grow."

Though the CopperDog's organization sounds like a complex hierarchy, it is actually an efficient managerial structure, ensuring detailed breakdowns of every aspect of the event. The other five CD 150 committees are sponsorship, community outreach/events, fundraising/merchandising, marketing/PR and race planning.

Race planning alone requires $39,135, including a $23,000 race purse; $4,000 for the snow road in downtown Calumet; $3,400 for veterinarians, medicine and race judges; plus money for trail grooming, snowmobile usage, an awards banquet, food charges, insurances, permits and more.

"It take a lot of money to have a dog race," summed up CD 150 treasurer Pam Hecht.

To determine the cost for this year's race, Hecht looked closely at last year's records and organized the expenses into each committee, then pressed each committee for more detail on each expense.

"We started back in early summer with each committee really looking at what they need for a budget to make their plans work for this race," she said. "By the end of December, all committees had a financial plan put together for me. At the present time I'm putting the final budget together for our club meeting in February."

Something perhaps surprisingly absent from that budget was labor.

"Some people out there think that the planners of the CD 150 somehow make money off the event," Brassard said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. The CD 150 is 100 percent staffed by volunteers."

Even still, with less than a month to go until the race, organizers have collected about $24,000 of the budgeted $32,000 in sponsorships. About 70 percent of the CD 150's total operating funds come from sponsorships, which are broken down into several levels depending on amount.

"Sponsorship and volunteers are the lifeblood of the CopperDog 150," sponsorship chair Abbey Green said. "Without the community leaders and our local businesses we would not be able to run an amazing event or promote economic vitality in the community like we do."

River Valley Bank is the CopperDog's marquee, or "Lead Dog," sponsor. Portage Health is a "Point Dog" sponsor, along with The Daily Mining Gazette, Wolf Radio and ABC10, whose collective media presence helps garner national recognition for an already popular regional race. Copper Country Rentals and AmericInn of Calumet help as "Wheel Dog" sponsors by providing free snowmobile rentals for trail workers and housing race officials and vets, respectively.

Countless other business have stepped forward to help with finances, logistics and promotion, and much of the sponsorship money comes in $200 to $300 at a time.

One business owner, Frank Fiala, who owns 5th & Elm Coffeehouses in Calumet and Houghton, has sponsored the race each year and has upped his commitment this year.

"I was one of the original planners for the race and from our experiences with sled dog racing when we lived in Alaska, (so) I knew firsthand what such an event could do for the local economy," Fiala said. "It has and it will only get better."

And the CopperDog is still looking for both sponsors and volunteers, both of whom can easily get involved online at

"This will be year three for the CopperDog and the event gets bigger and better every year. ... The (community) impact is substantial," said Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director. "We commend the hundreds of volunteers and all communities. This is truly a Keweenaw community effort."

posted on 2/4/2012 9:00 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Event Integrity

From the business perspective, the CopperDog 150 (CD150) is a subcommittee of the promotions committee of Main Street Calumet, a Michigan non-profit organization, operating under Section 501 (c)(3) of the IRS code.  Within the CD150 are six committees of which Finance/Liability is one.  Our committee strives to work closely with Main Street Calumet to keep track of the CopperDog 150 financial and legal obligations in accordance with their requirements.

Putting on the CopperDog 150 (or any event) requires financial integrity.  That is what our sponsors, donors, volunteers, participants and the public expect in addition to planning an exciting race and race-related activities.  Through careful budgeting and cash flow considerations, the CD150 is strong and continues to grow.   Working with the financial and legal aspects of the event, which includes proper money management, trail permits, insurance, etc. has helped us develop the process and procedures that can assure growth (as well as a lot of fun).

As our Race Director Todd Brassard has so eloquently said time and again, “nobody gets paid a dime for planning or working on this race.  The entire organization is made up of volunteers who are committed to the success of our home towns.”  The community vitality generated by the CD150 promotes a positive image of downtown Calumet, our Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor checkpoints as well as the trail system we are so fortunate to have in the Keweenaw.

In order for all of us to have a successful event requires sponsorship and donations.  With less than one month to race day, we still need to raise more funds in order to have the best-yet sled dog race in the copper country.  We have many ideas that can enhance race weekend in March and in future years, but it does take money and support from all of us—businesses and government, organizations, volunteers, and the public.   Knowing what it takes to put on this event gives each of us the opportunity to see how we can help improve our community vitality, build our community pride and have a good time doing it.

Personally, I have been involved with the Copper Dog 150 for the last three years and on our committee’s board as chair of the Finance and Liability Committee for seven months.  I had the opportunity to sit in on many of the CD committee meetings during the planning for the 2011 race as well as this year.  My background includes serving in various volunteer management positions with many non-profit organizations including the NCAA Frozen Four local organizing committee, NCAA Final Four local organizing committee, Super Bowl XL Host Committee, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Junior Olympics, etc., as well as many years in public television.  These experiences have provided me an overall perspective, as well as the day-to-day business needs, of planning, developing and executing a major event. 

It is the Copper Dog 150 and these types of events that involve individuals from all parts of our community irrespective of their own personal background.  It is something that brings us together and helps us get to know, appreciate and respect one another and our individual talents—all things essential to developing community vitality.

posted on 2/3/2012 12:38 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top
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