More than 350 barrel racers will ride into Williams Lake for four days beginning Thursday, July 28 at the BC Barrel Racing Finals.
Following open riding Thursday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. there will be time only practice runs ($5 for two minutes) from noon until 5 p.m.
On Friday, July 29 the finals officially kick off starting at 9 a.m. at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds with ‘Helmet Day.’ Open, peewee, junior and senior divisions will be running.
“For helmet day we encourage people to wear a helmet because of safety reasons,” said Karen Yaworski, sponsorship director with the BC Barrel Racing Association, whose membership consists of 16 directors — five of whom are from Williams Lake.
Roughly 250 barrel racers have registered for the open division, 40 more will compete in both the junior and senior classes and another 30 will ride in the peewee division.
On Saturday, July 30 which has a retro day theme, racing again starts at 9 a.m. with open, junior, peewee and senior events.
“The peewee division ends on Saturday,” Yaworski said, adding peewee awards will be presented following the third go.
Sunday, July 31 beginning at 7:30 a.m., open, junior and senior barrel racing will be featured, followed by the final award presentations at the Trail Riders Arena.
Additionally, at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, the BCBRA will host its annual general meeting at the Trail Riders Arena.
Also new to the BCBRA is a Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive program. This year, the CBHI has kicked in an additional $4,500 in prize money that will be up for grabs by horses who qualify.
Added money per division is as follows: open, $25,000; peewee, $750; junior, $1,800; senior, $1,700.
“[Barrel Racers] have to have qualified to compete here,” Yaworski said. “Once they become a BCBRA member they have to have six races to qualify for the final.”
Competitors will be arriving in Williams Lake from around the province, she added.
“We want to encourage people to come out and watch,” she said, noting admission is free of charge and there will be a concession at the Stampede infield.
She said the BCBRA board of directors would like to thank all of the blanket, buckle, saddle and product awards sponsors.
This year’s BC Barrel Racing Finals will be the third consecutive year the lakecity has hosted the event.