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Cal Douglas, left, and Melissa Sue Ostrander compete in a skijoring event in Red Lodge in 2019.

A New Year’s Day fundraiser for an upcoming skijoring event raised more than $8,000 in donations and sponsorships, exceeding organizers’ expectations.

“It was a really great turn out,” Melissa Ostrander, president of the recently formed nonprofit Boulder Valley Skijoring Association, said by Facebook Messenger. “And there are a lot of people that are wanting to help and volunteer!”

The event, hailed as “Skijoring the Big Rock,” is planned to happen from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1. Ostrander wrote that the association has reserved the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for those dates and is working with Bruce Binkowski, the county’s events coordinator, to firm up locating the event there.

Ostrander has described skijoring as a racing sport that mixes horsemanship with skiing: a fast-paced, timed sport in which a horse and rider pull a skier who must navigate jumps and gates.

The fundraiser, held Jan. 1 at The Windsor in Boulder, featured a pig roast and a silent auction.

“Now we can buy our spectator insurance, which is a must before we have a race,” Ostrander wrote.

Ostrander also hopes the association can now guarantee that competitors’ entry fees will go toward paying awards rather than running the race.

“It’s not cheap for competitors to travel, and when races take money out of entry fees for the race, it’s hard on competitors,” she explained.

The association was planning to vote on the matter Monday night, Ostrander said.

“We want this race to be as enticing as possible for both competitors and spectators [and] so will work towards voting [for] the best payback schedule,” she said.

On Feb. 29, the association will hold what’s called a Calcutta auction at The Windsor. At this event, Ostrander explained, competing teams will be auctioned off. Ten percent of the money raised will benefit local schools and breast cancer awareness, she said.

“The rest goes to the highest bidder,” she added. “This is where the community can participate and make money on the teams [that are] skijoring. If you buy a team and they get first, second or third on Sunday, you win the allocated money in that division based on how much was spent in each division for Calcutta.”

Ostrander said that the board would vote on whether to put some of the entry fees into the Calcutta pot, and whether to pay first, second and third-place winners or some other payback schedule.

Two other upcoming events will also benefit the association. On Sunday, Feb. 23, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the weekly “Brew A Better Community” night at Helena’s Ten Mile Creek Brewery, $1 of every pint of beer sold will go to the nonprofit. The same day from 11 a.m. to 11:55 a.m., $2 from every yoga practitioner attending Loft Studio in Helena will likewise benefit the association.

If there is extra money remaining from the fundraising after costs, Ostrander said they can add those dollars into both the race and the Calcutta pots.

“Adding money to the Calcutta pot adds money to the charities and usually [it] helps [encourage] people [to] buy teams when they can win more,” she said. “Added money to the race [also] encourages more competitors to enter and thus more entries and so bigger pots to win.”

Ostrander has participated in skijoring since 2012. She previously told The Monitor that the association’s goal is to bring tourists to the area during a slow time of year, as well as to raise money for local schools and for breast cancer awareness.

Ostrander said competitors can sign up at skijoringamerica.com or at the Windsor from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.

People interested in competing in or supporting the event as a volunteer or sponsor are invited to call Melissa Ostrander at 406-640-1601 or Carmela Romerio at 406-461-8247.

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