5/15/2013 9:46:00 AM Sled dog racing and Iditarod subject of Outfitter lecture May 21
Jessica Evans News Manager
Ed Stielstra has spent the last seven years participating in the renowned Iditarod race in Alaska. This will be the topic of discussion as he and wife Tasha will share their experiences in the Iditarod at The Outfitter's upcoming speaker series event, "Racing the Iditarod: Sled Dog Adventures," on Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. located at The Outfitter in Harbor Springs.
"The lecture will focus on Ed's adventures racing in the Iditarod and also on the trails and the people there," said Tasha Stielstra. "This past year was the first time he has not raced in a while due to an injury, but he did make it up there for a ceremonial start."
The couple owns Nature's Kennel located in McMillan, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, and when they're not racing in the Iditarod, they provide guided sled dog tours at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, and also offer individuals the opportunity to drive their own dog sled at their UP location. They also provide guided color tours in the fall, using four-wheeler vehicles with the dogs instead of sleds.
"The rides at Boyne are great for young families with kids," Stielstra said. "For those who are interested, they can come up and learn to drive the sled themselves. People love it. It's usually something that's been on their bucket list for years and they want to give it a try. We have a lot of repeat customers. Year after year, people will get to know the dogs and make a connection with them and want to come back again and again."
The Stielstras own 150 Alaskan huskies that they use for racing. Their lead dog, Rhu, will be joining them at the upcoming lecture. Rhu has competed in the Iditarod four times, Stielstra said.
"She's just like any other pet dog," Stielstra said. "She will sleep in our bed and eats treats out of our hands. All of our dogs are very friendly as they see a lot of people throughout the winter."
Nature's Kennel also hosts educational programs in McMillan, Stielstra said. A summer camp for girls ages 9-13 is held every summer in addition to a summer conference for adults, with an emphasis on providing educators with ideas of how to incorporate dog racing and the Iditarod into their curriculum.
Stielstra said she and husband Ed both enjoy racing and providing guests with the opportunity to experience this as well.
"People really enjoy it, and it's pretty neat to give people an opportunity to do this," she said. "I would have never thought it would be so gratifying to see people enjoying themselves doing this."
The lecture at The Outfitter will take place on Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at The Outfitter, 153 East Main Street, downtown Harbor Springs. Admission cost is a food item(s) for the Harbor Springs Community Food Pantry. For more information about Nature's Kennel, go to www.natureskennel.com or call 906-748-0513. For more information about the lecture, or upcoming events at The Outfitter, call 231-526-2621.