Sled Dog Races

Jan. 17-19, 2014


The first sled dog race at Chapman State Park crossed the Allegheny National Forest to Marienville and back in January of 1979. Ten teams ran a two-day race. The temperature hovered around -25 degrees both days with two feet of snow. Jim Lobdell of Warren won that first race and thus began the dog racing tradition at Chapman. Shortly thereafter, the “winter carnival” tradition began to accompany the races at the Park. By 1993, Warren County merged the events into Winterfest.

When Jim Lobdell passed away, the races took on his name: “The Jim Lobdell Memorial Sled Dog Races”. The Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club, Inc. manages the races; TVSC volunteers serve as Trail Boss and Race Marshall. Matt Gregerson of Clarendon leads Amateur FM Radio operators in providing communications to help administer the races. Agencies cooperating to make Winterfest possible include Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Bureau of State Parks, Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Forest Service. Each year, the races are listed on Sled Dog Central. Volunteer organizations stage activities and exhibits throughout the Park. Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue group from Philadelphia will be back for a seventh year at Winterfest.

There will be plenty of excitement for 2014, beginning the morning of Friday, January 17 with the 32-mile mid-distance race from Chapman State Park to the Hickory Creek Wilderness Ranch (16 miles away) and back to the Park. The mid-distance race will be followed by a “Meet the Musher” supper at the Kalbfus Rod & Gun Club, 2178 Chapman Dam Road. (About 2.2 miles from Clarendon) The Kalbfus Club will open to the public at 4:30 p.m., and the Spaghetti Supper will be served at 5:00 p.m. The Mushers in attendance (sled dog owners entered to race) can “Eat free and lodge free” at the Kalbfus Club as in years past.

For 2014, the Ski-joring portion of the races will be known as "Rocky's Race".  We are saddened to report that "Rocky", a three-time Lobdell race medalist, was struck and killed by a car near his home in February 2012.  The driver of the car did not stop.  His life story took him from a humble beginning as a stray puppy who followed "his" human (Tony Verga) home one day to stardom as a Lobdell race. Rocky the Ski-joring dog performed with Wanda Verga at Warren County Winterfest.  Wanda and Rocky became Winterfest champions. Tony and Wanda Verga want to encourage dog owners to teach their pets how to Ski-jor and enter the competition.  Dogs of all breeds can be taught to pull a human on cross-country skis with the proper harness, line, and belt.  It can be an invigorating and rewarding activity for both the human and the canine.  Come to the Winterfest dog races to see the Ski-joring competition on January 18th and 19th at Chapman State Park.  Talk with the racers and visit the Siberian Husky Rescue in Pavilion #1 for more information.

At Chapman State Park, a variety of downhill sledding events will take place, as well as skiing, ice fishing, snow shoeing, snow sculpting, and several food vendors. Bring the entire family and enjoy winter along the West Branch of the Tionesta Creek at the Park.

For more details on the sled dog races and canine weight pull, including scheduled dates and times, check out the 2014 Lobdell Race Flyer available for PDF download. The access road next to the Beach at Chapman State Park serves as the start/finish line for all sled dog races.

To see what sled dog racing looks like, visit our “sled cam” video on YouTube, posted below. This video is courtesy Lobdell racer (and 2013 race donor) Daniel Rehak of Pittsburgh, and was shot during the 2011 races on State Game Lands #29. You can see “head-on passing” as race teams going in opposite directions pass each other on the race course.

Lobdell “sled cam” by racer /donor Dan Rehak

Below is another video, this one posted by Streeper Kennels. While this is not footage of the Lobdell Races, it does show an 18-dog team going over 20 miles per hour:

2007 Sled Cam video from Streeper Kennel.


Sled Dog Racing and Jim Lobdell

Our Event

Lobdell Race Downloads

2014 Race Flyer - 1.5 MB PDF

Race Course Map - 340 KB JPEG

Registration & Waiver Forms:

Mid-Distance - 129 KB PDF

Sprints & Ski Jor - 114 KB PDF

Weight Pull - 126 KB PDF

All contestants must fill out a waiver form and the appropriate registration form. 

No late entries accepted!


“Meet the Musher”

host  Kalbfus Rod & Gon Club

location  2178 Chapman Dam Road

                    Clarendon, PA 16313

date  Friday, Jan. 17, 2014

time held Clubhouse opens at 4:30 p.m.

DINNER SERVED  5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

FEE, ages 12 and up  $6.00 per person

FEE, ages under 12  $3.00 per child

Some photos on this site are courtesy MRM Photography

Canine Weight Pull at Chapman State Park


I.W.P.A. Canine Weight Pull - Saturday & Sunday - 
 Jan. 19 & 20, 2013.

2013 Weight Pull Results -  45KB PDF download

Tails of the Tundra worked with Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club on a sled dog demo, photos are on the Winterfest Facebook page.

2014 Sled Dog Race and Weight Pull registration forms have been added to this Winterfest web-page.

Official announcements are posted here and on the Winterfest’s Facebook page. Please “like” the Winterfest Facebook page to receive updates.

-- Report REVISED 1:00 p.m. 26 Sept. 2013


& “Rocky”