Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby- Cutest Puppy Contest 

  • Sporting Events
    • Sled Dog Events & Races

Event Information

Excelsior Brewing Company

421 3rd St S
Excelsior, MN 55331


No ice or snow? No problem! Join us on what would have been Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby race day for our 4th-annual Cutest Puppy Contest at Excelsior Brewing Company! February 3rd, 2024 from 1:00-5:00pm?????????Contest Details:????????? Puppies 6-months of age or younger on 2/3/24 are eligible. $25 contest entry fee (for the puppy, not the hooman) which includes a raffle entry for a $250 Klondike Merch bundle. Puppies must be registered by 2:30pm to be included in the contest. 1 vote ticket = $1New this year, voting ticket bundles! $20 vote tickets = 1 Free Klondike Pint Glass$40 vote tickets = 1 Free EBC Beer$60 vote tickets = 1 Free Klondike Dog Derby Hat Votes will be tallied and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place winners of the 2024 Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby Cutest Puppy Contest will be announced via social media and our website on Monday, February 5th. Winners will pick up their prizes at Westonka Animal Hospital: 2125 Commerce Blvd, Mound, MN 55364

In the late 1930’s Excelsior held an annual “Klondike Day” as part of the WPA recreation project’s Hennepin County program of ice carnivals. The event featured the coronation of an ice princess and ice queen, a snow modeling contest, ski races, a masque nighttime skating party, and a dog derby. The dog derby was held on College Lake, where neighborhood kids would hitch Fido up to whatever sort of sled they might have had at their disposal, and race around the lake. Pictured below is Annette Colburn of Excelsior, repeated winner of the Tribune Dog Derby in Minneapolis. She’s posing with her dog, Tribune, after winning the dog derby during Klondike Day on February 22, 1937.

Sled dog racing in Excelsior didn’t end in the 1930’s, however. Later, in the 1970’s, Excelsior saw a revival of sled dog racing. The Greater Excelsior Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a series of races with the North Star Sled Dog Club, bringing a fun, annual winter festivity to the community. Starting and finishing in The Commons, dog teams raced out to Big Island and around Smith Bay and Lafayette Bay. There were multiple classes, including a Jr. Race. Hug-a-husky buttons were sold at local shops, and hot cider, bratwurst and kraut sandwiches served up as refreshments for racers and spectators alike. In the 1990’s sled dog racing made a return to the Lake Minnetonka area, but it was short lived.

In 2018, unaware of this rich history of sled dog racing in the area, Bethany Hway conceived of the idea of a sled dog race on the lake, starting and finishing on Water Street in Excelsior. An area resident with a long history in the sport, she thought it would be wonderful to introduce her community to the fun and magic of sled dog racing, and she knew that a race could bring traffic to the area during an otherwise quiet season. She reached out to her good friend Bill Damberg, owner of Brightwater Clothing in Excelsior. Bill was enthusiastic, as was Dr. Jackie Piepkorn of Westonka Animal Hospital. Dr. Jackie, a long-time sled dog veterinarian, had helped with the races on the lake in the 1990’s, and thought the idea for a modern-day sled dog race had merit. Soon there was a small group meeting regularly, working hard to bring their idea to life. Two years after the initial conception, the inaugural Klondike Dog Derby took place in February 2020.

The board of the Klondike Dog Derby is incredibly proud and to bring sled dog racing back to Excelsior and the Lake Minnetonka area!


  • Saturday, February 08, 2025
Return to previous page