LUMBERTON — Despite no permanent stalls at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center, more than 1,000 horse enthusiasts are expected to participate in Saturday’s annual Cowboy Up event sponsored by the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association.
“We had hoped that the stalls would be ready in time,” said Cecil Jackson, vice president of the association, “but that’s not going to happen.”
Jackson said that the association decided to cut down the number of days of this year’s event, which each year draws to Lumberton a large number of participants from all along the East Coast, from three days to one. He cited lack of stalls as the reason for the shortened event.
Jackson said, however, that this year’s Cowboy Up will still be the high quality show for which it has become known among horse show participants.
According to Jackson, the big events this year are a draft horse pull and coon mule jump. In addition to a variety of other equine events, including the popular Extreme Trail Horse Challenge, there will will be dog herding and dog obedience and training events, Jackson said.
There will also be a BBQ cook-off, as well as BBQ plates and Boston butt for sale.
Tickets for the daylong event are $10 each. Proceeds will be used to purchase a sound system for the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center’s pavilion. The pavilion since opening in April 2012 has been the site of numerous one-day horse shows.
The doors for Cowboy Up will open at 8 a.m. with events starting at 10 a.m.
Jackson said that the long-awaited permanent stalls at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-owned facility just outside Lumberton are nearing completion. Currently, there are temporary stalls on the property, but they are a distance from the pavilion and require horse owners to walk their horses across a paved parking lot to the arena.
The current stalls also are not built with the amenities, such as electricity, needed for overnight housing. Jackson said that permanent stalls will allow for multi-day shows that can draw more people to the area who will spend their money in local restaurants, hotels, gas stations and other businesses.
Driven Contractors LLC of Maxton has completed vertical construction of one of the two 40-by-250-foot barns which will each house 50 stalls, Jackson said. Work is currently under way on the second barn.
Kent Yelverton, director of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Property and Construction Division, said earlier this summer that as soon as Driven Contractors finishes its part of the project, electricity will be installed. The original $365,167 contract awarded to Driven did not include electrical installation, Yelverton said, but electric can be installed with a $165,000 included in the state budget.
Yelverton said that once the electrical work begins, it will “probably take 30 to 60 days to complete.”
Reach Bob Shiles at 910-416-5165.