This weekend, the Bulloch County Agricultural Arena will host one of its largest events yet — the RFD TV’s American Qualifier barrel race.
Arena Manager Billy Springer said all campsites, RV hookups and the 218 stalls in the complex have been reserved. An additional 92 temporary stalls were added to accommodate the number of horses expected to compete, and over half of those were sold out Tuesday, he said.
Presented by Southern Equine Services and produced by the Good Times Barrel Racing Association, or GTBRA, the RFD TV’s American Qualifier will run Friday, Oct. 11, through Sunday, Oct. 13, and admission for the public is free, he said. Concessions are available.
According to information from GTBRA, there will be $14,000 total “added money” in prizes for the races. There are several barrel competitions planned for the event, but the main feature is the qualifier that will send the top 10 winners to the national barrel event at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
This weekend’s three-day event will be webcast at www.visworks.com, said Stacy Warner, who along with GTBRA partner Andre-Marie Dohrn is producing the RFD TV event.
They chose Bulloch County’s arena because it “is clean, well-designed, large enough for an event this size and a great location,” she said. Praising Bulloch County and Statesboro for what she called a gracious welcome and for the city’s amenities, she said the event is expected to be a huge economic boost to the area.
Over 400 horses and riders will compete, coming from Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas and Alabama as well as Georgia, she said.
Springer said he is thrilled with the event and hopes this is the first of many large events to reserve the arena. Anywhere from 750 to over 1,000 people each day are expected.
Screven County resident and Statesboro educator Tracey Perryman, also a professional barrel racer, plans to ride at the arena over the weekend but will not be entering the qualifier competition due to her best horse “having a cold.”
She is thrilled to see a national event held in Bulloch County.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for local barrel racers to compete at the national level. It’s always fun to see how well you stack up against some of the best in the business,” she said. “The Bulloch County agricultural complex is a wonderful facility that will help bring people from across the Southeast to our area for various events. We barrel racers can now add another top-notch arena to our list of favorite venues to compete. The fact that it’s in my back yard is an added benefit! I’m excited to finally compete here after watching the construction over the past few years.”
The weekend’s divisions include classes for open 4Ds, peewee, youth, adults and seniors.
In addition to the qualifier, there will be stallion incentive races in which the offspring of established breeding stallions can compete.
Interested riders can enter online at www.GTBRA.com. Events begin at 9 a.m. each day and last until the final race is run.
The Bulloch County Agricultural Arena is located at 44 Arena Blvd., off Highway 301 South and Langston Chapel Road.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.