Barrel racing continues to boom regardless of the economy.
Ponoka’s Calnash Ag Event Centre played host to the Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) finals – that ran Wednesday, Aug. 17 to Sunday, Aug. 21 – and drew a record number of entries once again.
“We just keep growing and no one is sure of when or if we will plateau,” explained ABRA public relations director Janet Patriquin.
“We have more than 2,500 members and our thought, especially this year with the way the economy is, that we would be down on entries.”
That wasn’t the case, as the finals attracted more than 1,000 entries in the three categories – open, youth and peewee – with the two younger groups establishing new benchmarks for entries this year.
“It’s our fifth year being in Ponoka and it’s just an awesome facility. There’s no way now that anywhere else could host our event at the size it is,” Patriquin stated.
“The people need the camping and parking that is available here. It’s also wonderful that everyone here is really great to work with.”
In fact, the sport’s growth has been so huge that the ABRA added a full day to the finals two years ago just in order to keep up.
“Before we added that extra day, we were running 16-plus hours each day. Now, we are down to about 10 to 12 hours each day,” she added with a chuckle. “That extra day certainly makes it somewhat more manageable now.”
The very first ABRA finals event was hosted near what is now known as Maskwacis 21 years ago, drawing a total of 105 entries.
“It’s really unbelievable how much it continues to grow,” she said.
“The sport is really for everybody, as it gives riders at every level the opportunity to compete on an equal footing and win with the division system that is in place. And, it’s also about the entire family, since many use the finals as their holiday.”
That’s been especially noticeable this year with tight economy, according to Patriquin, since they’ve noticed more and more families would rather come to participate in the finals than pay to head off to a vacation destination.
“This is also a chance for not only socializing and visiting friends, but also to purchase gear and clothing for back to school,” she said.
“We sell out our vendor spots each year and there are thousands of dollars spent among them plus at other local businesses.”
The Finals results were as follows:
PeeWee – 1D Ryder Cochrane, 2D Zoe Bueckert, 3D Grace Havens.
Youth – Round 1 – 1D Reagan Tebb, 2D Alex Keras, 3D Macey Drobot, 4D Halle Golinsky; Round 2 – 1D Reagan Tebb, 2D Mackenna Moore, 3D Tegan Poitras, 4D Zenna Wright; Short Go – 1D Jewel Pollock, 2D Cati McArthur, 3D Hayden Rae Zack, 4D Halle Golinsky; Average – 1D Reagan Tebb, 2D Payden Lillico, 3D Jaclyn Schmidt, 4D Keeley Miller.
Open – Round 1 – 1D Judy Veer, 2D Amanda Lavalley, 3D Shania Kropinske, 4D Wanda Peterson, 5D Bobbi-jo Moch; Round 2 – 1D Jenny Traub, 2D Taryn Brown, 3D Kaila Skogstad, 4D Leanne Stav, 5D Kaye Stoesser; Short Go – 1D Rayel Little, 2D Dawn Gertner, 3D Marie-Elaine Dubuc, 4D Shelby Hall, 5D Ashley Batchelor; Average – 1D Jenny Traub, 2D Tammy Hamilton, 3D Charlene Braithwaite, 4D Brooke Cooper, 5D Sierra Booth; High point – Jenny Traub; Five-year-old incentive – Kali Kott; Six-year-old incentive – Christine Drisner; Senior incentive – 1D Judy Hyde, 2D Betty Ettinger, 3D Janice Waltze