John Stott was the big winner at this year’s North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships in Red Deer.
“It’s a long time coming,” Stott said after winning the trophy and buckle.
“I’ve been racing here quite a bit and I’ve had quite a few second-place finishes and was finally able to knock down a first.”
Stott has been racing for more than 20 years and this was the first time he took home the top prize at the North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships in Red Deer.
The championship event, usually a staple attraction of Westerner Days, was instead part of the first-ever Wagons at Westerner, which was held Friday to Sunday at Westerner Park.
“It’s really exciting. It’s kind of our hometown – we’re from Gull Lake. My dad’s won here a few times so I’m sort of following in his footsteps,” said Stott, who wrapped up the three-day event with a 78.34 time on Sunday and an aggregate time of 235.50.
Stott said there have been a couple of chuckwagon shows so far this year, but there wasn’t any racing throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, being off, we did a bit of work with the horses to keep them from just sitting in the pasture more or less. We’ve been trying to keep them going. It’s definitely nice to be back out,” he said.
Barb Salmond, of Porcupine Plains, Sask., finished second overall with a three-day time of 235.56, and Phil Arcand, of Morinville, finished third with a three-day time of 237.01.
Mike Olesen, Westerner Park CEO, said he was glad they were able to host the chuckwagon races despite this year’s Westerner Days being cancelled.
“We turned what is normally just a part of Westerner Days into its own event,” said Olesen.
Seeing the crowds at the event “kind of takes you back a little bit,” Olesen added.
“You’re thinking, ‘With the bleachers how many are we really going to fit?’ But when you see (thousands of) people on the grounds again, it’s awesome. Things are happening and people are having a good time. It’s gone really well.”
In addition to the North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships, Wagons at Westerner also included the Agri-Tade Stars of Tomorrow (the sons and daughters of competitors) and chariot racing.
The Chariot Champion was Marty Maxwell, of Camrose (Prairie Water & Equipment Rentals) – he finished with a three-day running time of 234.64. The Best Dressed Wagon winner was Larry Hutchings, of Calmar (Haven Rentals).
More than 5,000 tickets were sold throughout Wagons at Westerner.