“Western Fun for Everyone” is the theme of this summer’s edition of the highly popular, town-sponsored barrel racing and pole bending series.
“And fun is what they are,” said Payson Event Center coordinator Charlene Hunt.
The competition tips off May 6 with the “7D Series” that continues each Wednesday until July 29. The lone exception is June 9, when it will be held on a Tuesday.
The second series, “Turn ‘n’ Burn,” begins Aug. 5 and continues each Wednesday until Sept. 30.
The 7D series draws many of the younger equestrians, while Turn ‘n’ Burn, which begins after school starts, draws the older set.
“That is particularly true for those from Young,” Hunt said. “The younger ones show up for 7D but not for Turn ‘n’ Burn, because school is in session.”
Hunt also explains 7D as meaning seven divisions.
“The divisions are based on the speed of the horses,” she said. “The faster horses are in the first division and the slower ones in the seventh.”
For each competition, books open at PEC at 4:30 p.m. Timing only races are held from 5 to 5:45 p.m. and competition begins at 6 p.m.
Timing only runs are $3 each or two for $5. The entry fee is $5 per event.
At the conclusion of the Turn ‘n’ Burn series on Oct. 10, the Second Annual Cowboy Tri will be held.
As the climax of summer equestrian competition, it includes finals in the Turn ‘n’ Burn series as well as team sorting and team roping.
The Turn ’n’ Burn finals include both barrel racing and pole bending.
The Tri gives cowboys and cowgirls who might have not been able to compete in all the summer series a chance to go head-to-head, with the winners taking home bragging rights.
The highlight of the finals is the crowning of the Cowboy Tri All-Around champions in male, female, youth (17 years and younger) and senior (50 years and older) age/sex divisions.
“The emphasis on these awards is ‘Tri,’” Hunt said. “To qualify, you must participate in a combination of three events.”
For example, entrants who wish to compete for the all-around title can choose to sort, rope and do either the barrels or poles.
Also, qualifiers can choose to do barrels and poles as well as rope or sort.
Last fall, in the senior division, Leslie Thompson rode her way to first-place honors.
Teddy Tomerlin took top honors in the male division and Jackie Dawes was first among the female competitors.
Among the juniors, Pine cowgirl Chelsie Stodghill was crowned champion.
Although competitors had to compete in only three events to be eligible for the all-around title, Tomerlin, Dawes and Stodghill entered all four.
“That strategy helped them win,” Hunt said
In the senior division of team sorting, Kenny Calloway dealt his way to first place.
Among the juniors, Mason Ridley took the title, winning his first championship buckle.
Peggy Randall and Hunt tied for the women’s championship.
The overall winner was Reed Hunt, Charlene’s son.