Sled Dog Races

Jan. 20-22, 2017


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. Russ Bush of the Boy Scouts of America Venture Crew 73 leads the 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 eighth year at Winterfest.

There will be plenty of excitement for 2017, beginning the morning of Friday, January 20 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.

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 21st and 22nd 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 races’ promotional flyer and registration/information forms on this web-page. 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 Kennels


Sled Dog Racing and Jim Lobdell

Our Event

Lobdell Race Downloads

Race Promo Flyer - 1 MB PDF

Race Course Map - 340 KB JPEG

Registration & Waiver Forms:

MidDistance Form - 156 KB PDF

Sprint/Skijor Form - 218 KB PDF

Weight Pull Form - 146 KB PDF

All contestants must fill out a waiver form and the appropriate registration form.  Registration deadline Monday, 28 Nov. 2016.

No late entries accepted!


Some photos on this site are courtesy MRM Photography

Canine Weight Pull at Chapman State Park


There is no “Meet the Musher” supper planned for 2017.

Keep in touch on Winterfest’s Facebook page.