Black Bear Casino steps up as title sponsor for Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

By KBJR News 1

August 22, 2014 Updated Aug 22, 2014 at 9:21 PM CDT

Carlton, MN (NNCNOW.com)--- It's a name with historical significance..

"John Beargrease was a carrier of United States mail, predominantly by dog sled in the winter months," said Jason Rice, President of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

Beargrease was a member of the Grand Portage Band and he left behind a legacy that brings a community together to this day.

The 31st Annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Race will go on this year, thanks to a sponsorship from Black Bear Casino.

"I think it's a historic and relevant part of the heritage of the band Ojibwe people in this area, but it's also a relevant and important piece of the heritage of the Northland," said Todd Defoe, Marketing Manager for Black Bear Casino.

The race was nearly cancelled last year due to a lack of funding.

There was a change in leadership to save the race and Black Bear Casino stepped in late in the game as the presenting sponsor.

The band's contribution of $50,000 let the race go ahead.

"That was the one moment where we can all look back and say that's the moment we knew we'd have a race," said Rice.

For Beargrease officials, the early sponsorship has helped solidify finances for the 2015 race.

Leading up to the main attraction Black Bear will be hosting numerous Beargrease events, including the opening ceremonies and the cub run.

The casino hopes to have a continuing partnership with the sled dog marathon, and hopes others will step up to keep the race alive.

"It would be a real loss to the Northland, it would be a real loss to see this race go," said Defoe.

When they are not racing, mushers will enjoy free lodging at Black Bear for the duration of their stay in town.

Musher registration will take place at the Black Bear Casino Golf Course Club House on September seventh.

Miller Hill Subaru and Duluth Trading Company have also stepped up in support.

They will be the lead dog sponsors for the race.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati