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Millarville chucks and chariots off to the races

Bull Riders Canada to join lineup for Sept. 11
WW-Chariots of Fire 0031 web
Chariot racers kick up the dust at the Millarville Racetrack in 2018. The chucks and chariots return for 2021 from Sept. 10-12.

One of the Millarville Racetrack’s staple events is returning this weekend.

After a one-year hiatus during the pandemic, the Alberta Professional Chuckwagon And Chariot Association’s races are returning to Millarville on Sept. 10-12, where they will hold their finals.

“We’ve got more chuckwagons and chariots than we’ve ever had,” said event organizer Lori Lohnes. “They liked Millarville so much they decided to make us their finals. It’s pretty exciting.”

As a somewhat niche sport, she thinks spectators will get a thrill.

“There’s lots of people who’ve never seen chariot racing, and it’s really exciting,” Lohnes said. “It hasn’t got as much coverage as it maybe could have.

“Just like it sounds, it’s a person standing in a little chariot behind a couple horses going as fast as they can. It’s the speed they’re competing at, and if you see the vehicle the driver’s sitting in, there’s not much there."

Technique plays as much a part as raw speed, however.

“It takes a lot of skill and the races are always quite close,” Lohnes said. “That’s what makes it exciting.”

The equestrian element is a major draw, she added.

“If you have any sort of horse background at all, if you’re a horse person, you’ll be like ‘I should do that,’" Lohnes said. “Horse racing of any description is exciting.”

The chuckwagons, smaller than WPCA chuckwagons seen at High River or the Calgary Stampede, will offer a unique twist as well.

“They’re actually faster than the big wagons,” Lohnes said. “The horse is smaller because the wagon is smaller, but they record faster times than the big wagons.”

They still follow the same format, turning two barrels before taking to the track, but there are no outriders as there are in the large chuckwagon races.

If the chariots and chucks weren’t enough of a thrill, joining the mix this year is Bull Riders Canada, which will take place in the arena at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.

“I want to highlight the bull riding, because I think our area has been starved for bull riding events for a few years now,” Lohnes said.

“I really wanted to bring in bull riding because I know what it can do for our community; it’s an exciting event and it brings people out so they can get together.”

The races kick off Friday, Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. and Saturday will feature an antique tractor pull at 10:30 a.m., with the chucks and chariots running 3:30 p.m. following the Millarville Farmers Market and the Bull Riders Canada competition follows at 7 p.m.

The races wrap up with a final event Sunday at 3 p.m.

Each day spectators can hit up various food trucks then quench their thirst at the beer garden, from 4:30-10 p.m. Friday, 3-9:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3-6 p.m. Sunday.

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Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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