By Christie Oneill and Belen Dougherty 

University Times Staff

 Fort Kent – –During the Winter Freeze Festival in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada, Dr. Lea Allen, an English professor from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, showed off her unique talent by doing dog sled demonstrations, answering questions, and teaching young and old how to mush!

Professor Dr. Lea Allen demonstrating dog mushing at a local festival.  

At the Winter Freeze Festival in New Brunswick that took place late February, Dr. Allen shared she planned to race thirty- miles in the Can-Am Crown International Dog Sled Races held in Fort Kent, Maine; this would have been her fourth time entering this race. The Can-Am Crown International Dog Sled Races take place in March, a month when snow is present in this northern Maine region that borders Canada from around November to around the middle of March.

Notification of the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race’s cancellation came five days prior to the event’s scheduled date. Event organizers didn’t take the decision lightly, stating that the trails lacked enough snow because of recent weather patterns.

 With light rain in the week’s forecast and “unseasonal weather changes” these conditions were not safe for the mushers and their dogs. 

After learning of the cancellation, Dr. Allen reflected on her sorrow and the devastation this news is for the community that puts this together. 

“The amount of work the volunteers put in–some work an entire year to put this on, as there are a lot of logistics like trail grooming or check-point staffing. So even though it’s disappointing as a musher, for the volunteers and the community of Fort Kent, it must be devastating.”

Dr. Allen adds, “I’ll miss the chance to meet other mushers who come across the country for this race–the chance to talk strategies and dog network.”

The current climate change patterns are being seen throughout the eastern and northern part of the country, including Canada. This year alone, Allen wasn’t able to get on the sled until mid-January, and with the current snow melt and warm temperatures, it looks as if she won’t be able to get back on unless we get enough snow to cover up the ice. Allen adds, “The saddest thing is the loss of the winter. I won’t be out with my dogs on a sled anymore. This year, it just felt like winter didn’t get going yet.”