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Carthage Library offers family activities for winter break

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CARTHAGE — To beat cabin fever during mid-winter vacation, Carthage Free Library will offer a host of family programs.

With the annual Iditarod coming up in March, the library — located at 412 Budd St. — will provide an opportunity to learn more about the Alaskan dog sled race and about the sport, from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday.

Racer Nancy Stark and her six-dog sled team will be on hand to give an up-close look at the dogs and the sled used for racing.

Mrs. Stark, owner of Cupcake Mushing in Lacona, moved there from Alaska three years ago with her husband, Raymond, and their dogs.

“I fell in love with dog sledding the first time I went for a sled ride,” said Mrs. Stark, who was introduced to the sport while living in Alaska.

The Starks relocated to Lacona because of its proximity to the Winona State Forest, which has trails for dog sledding. They offer dogsled rides and kennel tours at their business.

This past weekend, she and her team competed in the Tug Hill Challenge, placing fourth of 24 teams in the six-dog open class.

“I am very proud of the team,” the musher said. “What is most important to me is that we all did our best and performed well. And that happened this weekend. It was a sprint race. My teams are long distance runners. We train to go the long miles and pace our runs. So, our win against the short, fast guys is especially gratifying.”

During the program at the library, participants will meet Mrs. Stark’s dog team, learn how to harness dogs to the sled, see and learn about sledding equipment, find out how the dogs are trained and cared for and view the gear used on the trail.

“Mostly, it’s about meeting the dogs,” Mrs. Stark said. “They are excited about the event.”

While the dog sled event is going on outside, inside participants can talk with local author Hope I. Marston about her book, “Eye on the Iditarod — Aisling’s Quest.” The story, written with 11-year-old Aisling Shepherd, tells of the young girl’s adventures in dog sledding and her dream to one day compete in the Iditarod.

The book is illustrated by local artist and Carthage Central High School art instructor Robert Renaud. Mrs. Marston will have photos on display of Aisling and talk about the girl’s real life story of her beginning to race at age 5.

Author Marcus Mastin and illustrator Jamie Peck will also be on hand with their latest children’s book, “A Mouse Named Newton,” the prequel to “Oscar Potter and his Late Night Visitor.” Co-authored by Mr. Mastin’s young daughter, Alana Mastin, the prequel tells about Newton’s home and friends, the Potter family.

The author will have books available for sale and signing.

The library’s Lego Building Challenge returns from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Participants are encouraged to bring their own Legos as the library only has a limited supply.

Last year, the event attracted about a dozen builders who constructed a variety of creations based around themes of movies, animals or transportation. Construction ideas will be available or builders can create whatever they can imagine. Builders and their creations will be photographed for the library Facebook page.

There will be a craft day from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday. Participants can make toad houses, grapevine wreaths, duct tape art or straw paintings with glitter.

For more information about the vacation programs, call the library at 493-2620.

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