NEW HAVEN — People looking for free, local entertainment this weekend need look no farther than New Haven, as the Big Bend Barrel Racers group holds one of two races this summer.
The National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) sanctioned race will be held Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m., at the New Haven Horse Ring, located next to the ball fields near Midway Drive.
Charlie Ohlinger, president of the Big Bend Barrel Racers, said admission is free to the family-friendly event. Usually lasting until 10 or 11 p.m., those attending can take advantage of the bleacher seating, or bring their own chairs.
Barrel racing was popular on the local ring in years past, but went by the wayside until it was revived about four years ago, Ohlinger said.
There will be four classes competing in the races, including open, youth, senior adult, and peewee for those eight years and younger. Trophies, as well as prize money, will be given out to winners in various divisions. Because the event is sanctioned by the NBHA, riders will also receive points for the state show in Winfield, as well as the national and world show.
Held twice a year, the earlier race this season was rained out, but has been rescheduled for Aug. 29, Ohlinger said. He added a lot of people in the horse business like to come to the New Haven races because of the vast parking area and the condition of the ring.
“There are a lot of high dollar horses in the race,” Ohlinger said. “We keep the grounds in good shape so no animal falls. We do everything we can in preparing the ring for safety.”
Preparing the ring is a long and tedious job. Ohlinger said the dirt is worked, then leveled with tractors pulling drags. The New Haven Fire Department helps water the ring to keep the dirt soft, so the horses can get traction to go around the barrels.
On race day, Ohlinger said the AEP Mountaineer Plant loans the group its water truck. All-in-all, a total of 12,000 to 14,000 gallons of water is used to prepare the ring.
A concession stand will be open by the New Haven ball teams. Alcohol is not permitted on the grounds, which were donated by the Mason County Commission.
For the safety of the horses, umbrellas are also not permitted, as they often frighten the animals, Ohlinger stated. Anyone bringing a dog must have it on a leash.
Ohlinger said many businesses have joined to help sponsor the event. The New Haven Police Department will also have a presence at the race.
Race committee members, in addition to Ohlinger, include Steve Patterson, William Greer, Nancy Ohlinger, and Betty Jo Ohlinger.
For more information, contact Charlie Ohlinger at 304-882-2198.