Over 1,000 barrel racers spent a busy five days in what is the largest barrel race event in Alberta.
The Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) Finals ran Aug. 23 to 27 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre with almost 750 entries in the open category this year to go along with close to 250 youth and more than 50 peewee riders.
“This is the biggest race week of the year, which brings together racers and their horses from every district in the province for a week of fun, memories and friendship alongside the racing,” explained Tamera Campanelli, vice-president of the ABRA.
“The numbers this year are very similar to last year, which doesn’t change too much usually, but our youth numbers were up a bit and that’s good to see.”
She added it was great to see the riders as well as the general public come by and support the event.
“The facility was packed at times, with a lot of local people coming by and taking in the racing as well as dropping in to do some shopping at the nearly 50 vendors that were part of the trade show,” Campanelli stated.
“What the fans saw was some great, fast racing and the peewee riders are just so cute.”
She also commented that the facility — including the grounds, barns and areas to camp — is a fantastic place to be able to host the Finals as is the community of Ponoka.
“The community and all the sponsors continue to be great supporters for the ABRA,” she said.
“As for the Calnash, it is a wonderful place to hold this event. I can’t think of any place better.”
And for those competitors that come to the Finals, it can be a great opportunity to earn some profit on a long barrel racing season. Aside from the prizes, buckles and other items, riders can walk off with a some significant cash as the top 15 in each division in the three categories (peewee, youth, open) recieve a payout.
This year’s winners were: Peewee — 1D Elly Grover, 2D Whip Gertner, 3D Kaston Harp; Youth — 1D Reagan Tebb, 2D Macy Auclair, 3D Nikki Williscroft, 4D Vanessa Henderson, High point Kaitlin Haeberle; Youth Average — 1D Kaitlin Haeberle, 2D Alyssa McLaughlin, 3D Meggie MacKenzie, 4D Rachel Moat; Open — 1D Helen Nowosad, 2D Judy Hyde, 3D Justina Beauchesne, 4D Desiree Neale, 5D Kelsey Meston, High point Jenny Traub; Open Average — 1D Jenny Traub, 2D Colby Gilbert, 3D Theresa Oldford, 4D Sheila Chamulke, 5D Kristin York.