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Silverton skijoring needs donations or faces cancellation

Event searching for ways to fund race in perpetuity
Silverton’s 2020 skijoring race needs about $10,000 in donations to be put on, otherwise it may have to be canceled.

Organizers for Silverton’s annual skijoring race say they need to raise about $10,000 by Dec. 15 or there likely won’t be an event this winter.

Every Presidents Day weekend in February, Silverton hosts the popular race, which features riders on skis being pulled by horses on Blair Street. It’s by far the town’s largest event in winter, bringing 3,000 to 4,000 people to the small community about 50 miles north of Durango.

Karen Sites, director of the skijoring race, said it costs about $30,000 to run the event, which includes money for insurance, announcers, rental equipment and $10,000 in prize money.

As of Monday, event organizers had raised about $4,000, and there’s a standing offer from the town of Silverton to match up to $5,000 in donations.

That leaves about $10,000 to $11,000 needed, and because of time issues, the money is needed by around Dec. 15 or the event likely can’t go on.

“We’d like to see most of the money by that date,” Sites said. “But if we’re close, we’ll likely continue on.”

It’s not the first time Silverton’s skijoring event has needed funds. Last year, event organizers were calling for donations to hold the 2019 race after a $5,000 shortfall.

Sites, who is in her first year as director, said she is looking for more stable ways to fund skijoring in the future, so the event doesn’t rely solely on donations.

At the 2020 race, for instance, the event will feature a beer festival, with proceeds going to the 2021 skijoring race. And, Sites said there will be T-shirts and hats for sale with a new logo.

“We’re trying to come up with creative solutions to stop asking all the local businesses for money,” she said.

The worst-case scenario, she said, would be to cancel the 2020 race for lack of money.

In 2018, the skijoring race was canceled because of insurance issues related to the 2017 race when three people were injured by a horse spooked by a low-flying drone. Sites said the event had a great comeback in 2019.

The event, organizers say, is critical to Silverton’s winter economy, and is on par with its other major event of the year, the Fourth of July celebration.

Anyone interested in donating to the event this year may call Sites at 903-1961 or email her at silvertonskijoring@gmail.com. Checks can also be sent to P.O. Box 454, Silverton, CO, 81433.


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