Mckenzie Small rides her horse, Chauncey, around the pole in a single-pole competition at the Farmington Fair on Sunday morning.
FARMINGTON — The 177th Farmington Fair kicked off on Sunday morning with barrel racing — an intense, fun-to-watch event for the whole family, according to ringmaster Stephanie Voye.
Barrel racing is a rodeo-style event that focuses on speed and agility, according to Voye. In the “old rodeo days,” she said, when all the men were out riding bulls and bucking broncos, their wives wanted to do something fun, too — so barrel racing was born.
The competition on Sunday at the fair had three racing events — single pole, classic barrel racing and pole bending.
In single pole racing, the horse and rider ride toward a single pole, go around it and dash back toward the other end.
Classic barrel racing has three barrels arranged in a clover-leaf pattern. The horse and rider can go to the right or the left, and must make a full circle around each barrel.
In pole bending, there are six poles in a row, with minimal distance between them. Competitors race toward the farthest pole, go around it, and weave in and out between each pole on the way back and down the course again.
Voye said the competition is fierce, but sportsmanlike.
“The riders have some of the most competitive friendships I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Myra Evans and Montana Johnson demonstrated this as they sat on their horses together, talking and laughing before their event, where they would be competing against each other.
Evans, 12, of Palermo has been barrel racing for seven years.
“I love the bond it creates between me and my horse,” said Evans, patting her horse, Buggs, on the neck.
Johnson, 10, of Summerville has been riding for five years, and said she just likes the idea of being able to ride a horse, but also loves the bond it creates with her horse, Angel.
McKenzie Small, 13, of York, has been barrel racing for four years, and missed first place in the single pole competition by .024 of a second, but she didn’t seem to mind taking second place.
“I feel like both my horses ran really well today,” Small said.
Myra Evans urges her horse, Buggs, to speed to the end of the single-pole race at the Farmington Fair on Sunday morning.